Mars' seasonal caps are characterized during Mars years 26 and 27 (April 2002 to January 2006) using data acquired by the 2001 Mars Odyssey Neutron Spectrometer. Time-dependent maps of the column abundance of seasonal CO 2 surface ice poleward of 60?? latitude in both hemispheres are determined from spatially deconvolved, epithermal neutron counting data. Sources of systematic error are analyzed, including spatial blurring by the spectrometer's broad footprint and the seasonal variations in the abundance of noncondensable gas at high southern latitudes, which are found to be consistent with results reported by Sprague et al. (2004, 2007). Corrections for spatial blurring are found to be important during the recession, when the column abundance of seasonal CO2 ice has the largest latitude gradient. The measured distribution and inventory of seasonal CO2 ice is compared to simulations by a general circulation model (GCM) calibrated using Viking lander pressure data, cap edge functions determined by thermal emission spectroscopy, and other nuclear spectroscopy data sets. On the basis of the amount of CO2 cycled through the caps during years 26 and 27, the gross polar energy balance has not changed significantly since Viking. The distribution of seasonal CO2 ice is longitudinally asymmetric: in the north, deposition rates of CO2 ice are elevated in Acidalia, which is exposed to katabatic winds from Chasma Borealis; in the south, CO2 deposition is highest near the residual cap. During southern recession, CO 2 ice is present longer than calculated by the GCM, which has implications for the local polar energy balance. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Characterization of Mars' seasonal caps using neutron spectroscopy