Seasonal polar carbon dioxide frost on Mars: CO2 mass and columnar thickness distribution

Nora J. Kelly, William V. Boynton, Kris E. Kerry, Dave Hamara, Daniel M. Janes, Robert C. Reddy, Kyeong J. Kim, Robert M. Haberle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Conclusions are drawn about the column density (g/cm2), spatial extent, and mass of the seasonal carbon dioxide frost on the poles of Mars as a function of time utilizing data from the 2001 Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS). Quantification of these CO2 values is achieved by observing attenuation effects of the surface-emitted hydrogen gamma ray flux as the frost condenses and sublimates in a seasonal exchange of CO2 between the ground and the atmosphere. Columnar thickness and mass results are discussed and plotted for latitudes including ±60° and poleward. GRS observations are compared to predictions from the NASA Ames Research Center General Circulation Model and to similar experimental results from the Mars Odyssey High Energy Neutron Detector and Neutron Spectrometer. Models for north and south polar atmosphere and regolith distributions are incorporated, and our results indicate that the assumption of a 100% H2O-ice residual cap underlying the seasonal frost in the north is accurate. The GRS CO2 frost observations are in good agreement with the other studies mentioned, in particular for the timing of the beginning of frost deposition to the complete sublimation of surface CO2 back into the atmosphere. The total amount of condensed carbon dioxide mass seen by the GRS is on the order of 6.0 × 1015 kg and verifies previous reports that nearly 25% of the Martian CO2 reservoir participates in the ground-atmosphere exchange cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE03S07
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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