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GPR, a ground-penetrating radar for the Netlander mission

Abstract : In the coming decade, several missions are planned that will land on the surface of Mars landers or instrumented geophysical stations. Among the scientific objectives of these projects, one of the most important will be to unravel the many unknowns in the geological and hydrological history of the planet. The Netlander mission offers a unique opportunity to explore the interior of Mars, its subsurface, its atmosphere, and its distant environment from four landing sites that will be selected to offer a variety of different geophysical conditions. We have thus proposed to fly on these four landers a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to explore the geological characteristics of the subsurface and search for water reservoirs down to a depth which may be sufficient to allow a possible detection of liquid water. We provide in this paper a short description of this radar which is based on a new concept to allow a 3-D imaging of the subsurface by determining the range and direction of the underground reflectors. In order to access to deep layers, it will operate at a low frequency of 2 MHz. Some results obtained by a numerical modeling of the radar operation in an electromagnetic model of the Martian subsurface are presented in order to illustrate the main capabilities of the radar. In the last section, preliminary results from an initial field test are reported. In addition to its primary goal as a ground-penetrating radar, the GPR will also be operated on Mars as an ionospheric sounder and, in a passive mode, as a HF receiver to measure the radio-electric background.
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Jean-Jacques Berthelier, R. Ney, Valérie Ciarletti, Alain Reineix, Benoit Martinat, et al.. GPR, a ground-penetrating radar for the Netlander mission. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2003, 108 (E4), pp.ID 8027. ⟨10.1029/2002JE001866⟩. ⟨insu-01659819⟩



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