Exploring Subsurface Geology Using Radar Techniques: Experiments in Sahara and Consequences for Mars Exploration | INSTITUT DE PHYSIQUE DU GLOBE DE PARIS


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  Exploring Subsurface Geology Using Radar Techniques: Experiments in Sahara and Consequences for Mars Exploration

Type de publication:

Journal Article


AGU Spring Meeting Abstracts, Volume 52, p.01 (2004)




Etudes spatiales et planétaires ; 0694 Instrumentation and techniques; 0933 Remote sensing; 5109 Magnetic and electrical properties; 5470 Surface materials and properties; 6225 Mars, UMR 7154


For several years, we have conducted a quantitative study of radar penetration performances in various desert arid environments. This study combines both SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) imaging from orbital and airborne platforms and in situ GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) measurements. Laboratory characterization of various minerals and rocks are used as input to electromagnetic models such as IEM (Integral Equation Model) and FDTD (Finite Difference Time Domain) that describe the subsurface scattering process for inversion purposes. Several test sites were explored, mainly the Sahara. Our first experiment was realized in Republic of Djibouti, an arid volcanic area which is a good analog to Mars. We observed a very little radar penetration there because of the presence of iron oxides and salts in the subsurface that make the soil conductive [Paillou et al., GRL, 2001]. A more favorable site for radar penetration was then explored in southern Egypt: the Bir Safsaf area where buried river channels were discovered using orbital SAR images. We showed how to combine SAR and GPR in order to obtain a complete description of subsurface geology down to several meters [Paillou et al., IEEE TGRS, 2003]. Such field experiments were the basis for more systematic laboratory measurements of the electromagnetic properties of various rocks and minerals which were used in numerical models in order to simulate the performances of future Martian radars, e.g. MARSIS and NETLANDER low frequency radars [Heggy et al., Icarus, 2001; Berthelier et al., JGR, 2003; Heggy et al., JGR, 2003]. More recently, new explorations were conducted in Mauritania in order to demonstrate radar capacities for geologic mapping [Grandjean et al., Coll. Afr. Geol., 2004] and in Libya where radar discovered a double impact crater in the southern desert [Paillou et al., C.R. Geoscience, 2003]. More local radar experiments were also conducted on a test site located in France, the Pyla sand dune, where we observed and modeled a radar signature of subsurface water [Grandjean et al., IEEE TGRS, 2001; Paillou et al., IGARSS'03, 2003]. All of these results shall be used in the context of "terrestrial analogs to Mars" studies in order to prepare for future Mars exploration using radars [Farr et al., Planet. Dec. Study, 2002; Paillou et al., 35th LPSC, 2004]: it concerns both GPR instruments onboard rovers and landers devoted to the exploration of the deep subsurface [Berthelier at al., ESA Pasteur, 2003] and SAR imaging systems onboard orbital platforms for global mapping of the shallow subsurface geology [Paillou et al., Conf. Water Mars, 2001].