Both poles of Mars are hidden beneath caps of layered ice. We calculated the density of the south polar layered deposits by combining the gravity field obtained from initial results of radio tracking of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter with existing surface topography from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and basal topography from the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding on the Mars Express spacecraft. The results indicate a best-fit density of 1220 kilograms per cubic meter, which is consistent with water ice that has ∼15% admixed dust. The results demonstrate that the deposits are probably composed of relatively clean water ice and also refine the martian surface-water inventory.
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