The WISDOM Radar: Unveiling the Subsurface Beneath the ExoMars Rover and Identifying the Best Locations for Drilling

Abstract : The search for evidence of past or present life on Mars is the principal objective of the 2020 ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Rover mission. If such evidence is to be found anywhere, it will most likely be in the subsurface, where organic molecules are shielded from the destructive effects of ionizing radiation and atmospheric oxidants. For this reason, the ExoMars Rover mission has been optimized to investigate the subsurface to identify, understand, and sample those locations where conditions for the preservation of evidence of past life are most likely to be found. The Water Ice Subsurface Deposit Observation on Mars (WISDOM) ground-penetrating radar has been designed to provide information about the nature of the shallow subsurface over depth ranging from 3 to 10 m (with a vertical resolution of up to 3 cm), depending on the dielectric properties of the regolith. This depth range is critical to understanding the geologic evolution stratigraphy and distribution and state of subsurface H2O, which provide important clues in the search for life and the identification of optimal drilling sites for investigation and sampling by the Rover's 2-m drill. WISDOM will help ensure the safety and success of drilling operations by identification of potential hazards that might interfere with retrieval of subsurface samples. Key Words: Ground penetrating radar—Martian shallow subsurface—ExoMars. Astrobiology 17, 565–584.
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Valérie Ciarletti, Stephen Clifford, Dirk Plettemeier, Alice Le Gall, Yann Herve, et al.. The WISDOM Radar: Unveiling the Subsurface Beneath the ExoMars Rover and Identifying the Best Locations for Drilling. Astrobiology, Mary Ann Liebert, 2017, 17 (6-7), pp.565 - 584. ⟨10.1089/ast.2016.1532⟩. ⟨insu-01575106⟩

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