Interannual observations and quantification of summertime H2O ice deposition on the Martian CO2 ice south polar cap

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

The spectral signature of water ice was observed on Martian south polar cap in 2004 by the Observatoire pour l'Mineralogie, l'Eau les Glaces et l'Activite (OMEGA) ( Bibring et al., 2004). Three years later, the OMEGA instrument was used to discover water ice deposited during southern summer on the polar cap ( Langevin et al., 2007). However, temporal and spatial variations of these water ice signatures have remained unexplored, and the origins of these water deposits remains an important scientific question. To investigate this question, we have used observations from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft of the southern cap during austral summer over four Martian years to search for variations in the amount of water ice.


We report below that for each year we have observed the cap, the magnitude of the H2O ice signature on the southern cap has risen steadily throughout summer, particularly on the west end of the cap. The spatial extent of deposition is in disagreement with the current best simulations of deposition of water ice on the south polar cap (Montmessin et al., 2007).


This increase in water ice signatures is most likely caused by deposition of atmospheric H2O ice and a set of unusual conditions makes the quantification of this transport flux using CRISM close to ideal. We calculate a ‘minimum apparent‘ amount of deposition corresponding to a thin H2O ice layer of 0.2 mm (with 70% porosity). This amount of H2O ice deposition is 0.6–6% of the total Martian atmospheric water budget. We compare our ‘minimum apparent’ quantification with previous estimates.


This deposition process may also have implications for the formation and stability of the southern CO2 ice cap, and therefore play a significant role in the climate budget of modern day Mars.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Interannual observations and quantification of summertime H2O ice deposition on the Martian CO2 ice south polar cap
Series title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.08.039
Volume 405
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
First page 102
Last page 109
Other Geospatial Mars South Pole