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Mars Radar Instruments Work Together To Discover Hidden Martian Secrets

Date:
April 22, 2008
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
A radar instrument has looked beneath the surface of Mars and opened up a new dimension for planetary exploration. The technique's success is prompting scientists to think of other places in the solar system where they would like to use radar sounders.
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Two complementary radar sounder instruments work together to discover hidden Martian secrets.
Credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/University of Rome/Washington Universtiy in St. Louis

A radar instrument co-sponsored by NASA on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter has looked beneath the surface of Mars and opened up a new dimension for planetary exploration.

The technique's success is prompting scientists to think of other places in the solar system where they would like to use radar sounders. The radar sounder on Mars Express is the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Imaging, or MARSIS. It was built to map the distribution of liquid and frozen water in upper portions of the planet's crust.

A complementary radar sounder, the Shallow Subsurface Radar on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, uses a different radio frequency to see greater detail but to a lesser depth.

As these two instruments continue to provide data, the understanding that they provide about how planetary radar sounders work is prompting ideas for using the technology to explore beneath the surfaces of bodies such as Jupiter's moon Europa, Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus, as well as asteroids and comets.

MARSIS was funded by NASA and the Italian Space Agency and developed by the University of Rome, Italy, in partnership with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Italy provided the instrument's digital processing system and integrated the parts. The University of Iowa, Iowa City, built the transmitter for the instrument, JPL built the receiver and Astro Aerospace, Carpinteria, Calif., built the antenna. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 

The shallow Subsurface Radar was provided by the Italian Space Agency. Its operations are led by the University of Rome and its data are analyzed by a joint U.S.-Italian science team. JPL manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Mars Radar Instruments Work Together To Discover Hidden Martian Secrets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420114718.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2008, April 22). Mars Radar Instruments Work Together To Discover Hidden Martian Secrets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420114718.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Mars Radar Instruments Work Together To Discover Hidden Martian Secrets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420114718.htm (accessed August 4, 2015).

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