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Global Map of Thermal Neutrons
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Global Map of Thermal Neutrons

October 8, 2009
Observations by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft show a global view of Mars in low energy, or thermal, neutrons. Thermal neutrons are sensitive to the presence of hydrogen and the presence of carbon dioxide, in this case "dry ice" frost. The red area at the top of the map indicates that about one meter (three feet) of carbon dioxide frost covers the surface, as it does every Mars winter in the polar regions. Soil enriched by hydrogen is indicated by the deep blue colors on the map, which show a low intensity of thermal neutrons. An enhancement of thermal neutrons close to the south pole, seen as a light green color, indicates the presence of residual carbon dioxide in the south polar cap, even though the annual frost dissipated from that region during southern summer