Press Release

UA Instrument Aboard Mars Odyssey Detects Hydrogen at Mars’ South Pole

By SpaceRef Editor
March 1, 2002
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The first images and science results from NASA’s Mars Odyssey were unveiled
today during a press conference held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, CA.

Odyssey is carrying the Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), built under the
direction of Professor William V. Boynton at the University of Arizona Lunar
and Planetary Laboratory.

The GRS is a suite of three instruments: the Gamma Subsystem, built by the
UA; the Neutron Spectrometer, built by Los Alamos National Laboratory; and
the High Energy Neutron Detector, provided by the Russian Aviation and Space
Agency, Moscow.

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft began its science mapping mission on Feb. 19,

After only 10 days, the GRS instruments have made observations of
significant quantities of hydrogen within the surface of Mars. The three
instruments within the GRS suite have all shown a substantial region located
in the southern polar region is very strongly indurated with hydrogen. The
hydrogen content is most likely due to substantial quantities of ice,
although the amount of ice cannot be quantified yet.

“If this is confirmed, this is fantastic. There is the equivalent of at
least several percent water south of 60 degrees latitude”, said William
Boynton, principal investigator of the GRS instrument suite.

For many years scientists have speculated that near-surface water may exist
on Mars. The Gamma Ray Spectrometer instruments have made the first direct
measurements that confirm there are significant amounts of hydrogen just
beneath the surface of Mars.

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SpaceRef staff editor.