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MARSIS Radar Estimates The Volume Of Water In The South Pole Of Mars

The MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) radar of the Mars Express space probe.
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Apr 05, 2007
By studying the South Polar region of Mars, the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) radar of the Mars Express space probe has enabled the structure of the layered deposits of this region to be elucidated. For the first time in the history of planetary exploration, topographic maps of the Martian sub-soil have been produced, revealing considerable volumes of ice.

The LPG (Grenoble Planetary Laboratory) (CNRS - Universite Grenoble 1) has been closely involved in processing and analyzing data from the Marsis radar. These results were published on the website of the journal Science on March 15, 2007.

The Marsis low frequency radar has been designed so that its signals penetrate into the Martian sub-soil. Consequently, its radar signals can reach a depth of more than 3.7 km, which has made it possible to map the boundary between the layered deposits and the floor of the basin.

In addition, the study of the Marsis radar signal has revealed that the South Polar region of Mars, which has the shape of a giant dome of around 1000 km diameter, is mainly composed of ice. Another important result: highly variable distribution and depth of the ice deposits have been observed.

In particular, a series of depressions of 50 to 200 km diameters and with a depth of around 1 km compared to the average level of the subsurface (sub-soil) have been identified at high latitudes.

Thanks to the Marsis instrument, it has been possible to estimate the total volume of ice in this region at 1.6 million cubic kilometers. If this volume of ice was distributed in a uniform manner over the whole surface of the planet, Mars would be covered by 11 m of water.

Subsurface Radar Sounding of the South Polar Layered Deposits of Mars, J. J. Plaut, G. Picardi, A. B. Ivanov, S. M. Milkovich, A. Cicchetti, W. Kofman, J. Mouginot, W. M. Farrell, R. J. Phillips, S. M. Clifford, A. Frigeri, R. Orosei, C. Frederico, I. P. Williams, D. A. Gurnett, E. Nielsen, T. Hagfors, E. Heggy, E. R. Stofan, D. Plettemeier, T. R. Watters, C. J. Leuschen, P. Edenhofer, Science Online publication, March 15, 2007.

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ESA Prepares For A Human Mission To Mars
Paris, France (ESA) Apr 03, 2007
Starting in spring next year, a crew of six will be sent on a 500 day simulated mission to Mars. In reality the crew will remain in a special isolation facility in Russia. To investigate the psychological and medical aspects of a long-duration mission, such as to Mars, ESA is looking for experiment proposals for research to be carried out during their stay.

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