3D radar image provides new insights into Mars’ north polar cap

(ORDO NEWS) — According to an article by Nathaniel Putzig, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Planetary Sciences, the new improved 3D radar image significantly improves visibility of the interior of Mars‘ north polar cap.

Putzig’s team, which included researchers Matthew Perry, Isaac Smith, Aaron Russell, and intern Isabella Muller, prepared and analyzed a 3D radar image using observations from the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument on NASA‘s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The study was published in the journal Planetary Science.

“When creating 3D radargrams, we collect all the data from many 2D profiles in the area of ​​interest and apply advanced 3D imaging techniques to eliminate all interference present in 2D profiles by placing echoes at their origins to obtain a geometrically corrected 3D image subsurface images,” said Putzig, lead author of the study.

“The new 3D radar image focuses on many objects that were previously difficult or impossible to display due to the initially incomplete display of 3D objects using a set of 2D profiles.

So far we have only scratched the surface of what this new body of data tells us about the history of Martian polar processes and climate, and much more detailed mapping work remains to be done.”

SHARAD explores the subsurface layers at a depth of up to 4 kilometers, emitting radar waves in the frequency range from 15 to 25 MHz.

The reflected radar waves picked up by the SHARAD antenna are sensitive to changes in the electrical characteristics of rocks, sand and water ice that may be present above and below the surface.

Also visible are changes in the reflection characteristics of subsurface layers caused by layers deposited as a result of geological processes in the ancient history of Mars.

“The 3D imaging results allow for a better understanding of Mars by providing a clearer view of subsurface features that can be used to substantiate geological interpretations of the origin of polar deposits and implications for Martian climate history.

Details of the geometry of the subsurface layers can be used to determine the processes associated with the deposition and erosion of layers over time,” said Putzig.

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