Observations by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft show a comparison of wintertime (left) and summertime (right) views of the north polar region of Mars in intermediate-energy, or epithermal, neutrons. The maps are based on data from the high-energy neutron detector, an instrument in Odyssey's gamma-ray spectrometer suite. Soil enriched by hydrogen is indicated by the purple and deep blue colors on the maps. Progressively smaller amounts of hydrogen are shown in the colors light blue, green, yellow and red. The hydrogen is believed to be in the form of water ice. In some areas, the abundance of water ice is estimated to be up to 90% by volume. In winter, much of the hydrogen is hidden beneath a layer of carbon dioxide frost (dry ice). In the summer, the hydrogen is revealed because the carbon dioxide frost has dissipated. A shaded-relief rendition of topography is superimposed on these maps for geographic reference.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson, and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the science instruments. The gamma-ray spectrometer was provided by the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and Institute for Space Research (IKI), which provided the high-energy neutron detector, and the Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico, which provided the neutron spectrometer. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.