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MARSIS surface reflectivity of the south residual cap of Mars

Abstract : The south residual cap of Mars is commonly described as a thin and bright layer of CO2-ice. The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) is a low-frequency radar on board Mars Express operating at the wavelength between 55 and 230 m in vacuum. The reflection of the radar wave on a stratified medium like the residual cap can generate interferences, causing weaker surface reflections compared to reflections from a pure water ice surface. In order to understand this anomalous low reflectivity, we propose a stratified medium model, which allows us to estimate both the thickness and the dielectric constant of the optically thin slab. First, we consider the residual cap as single unit and show that the decrease in the reflected echo strength is well explained by a mean thickness of 11 m and a mean dielectric constant of 2.2. This value of dielectric constant is close to the experimental value 2.12 for pure CO2-ice. Second, we study the spatial variability of the radar surface reflectivity. We observe that the reflectivity is not homogeneous over the residual cap. This heterogeneity can be modeled either by variable thickness or variable dielectric constant. The surface reflectivity shows that two different units comprise the residual cap, one central unit with high reflectivity and surrounding, less reflective units.
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Contributor : Béatrice Pibaret-Bourdon <>
Submitted on : Monday, May 18, 2009 - 1:51:23 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:48:45 AM

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Jeremie Mouginot, Wlodek Kofman, Ali Safaeinili, Cyril Grima, Alain Hérique, et al.. MARSIS surface reflectivity of the south residual cap of Mars. Icarus, Elsevier, 2009, 201 (issue 2), pp.454-459. ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2009.01.009⟩. ⟨insu-00385105⟩



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