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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 22, 2005 17:58:25 GMT -6
MARSIS Uncovers Underground Ice
For the first time in the history of planetary exploration, the MARSIS radar on board ESA's Mars Express has provided direct information about the deep subsurface of Mars.
Two strong and distinct echoes coming from the area correspond to a surface reflection and subsurface interface between two different materials. By analysis of the two echoes, the scientists were able to draw the likely scenario of a nearly pure, cold water-ice layer thicker than 1 km, overlying a deeper layer of basaltic regolith. This conclusion appears to rule out the hypothesis of a melt zone at the base of the northern layered deposits.
To date, the MARSIS team has not observed any convincing evidence for liquid water in the subsurface, but the search has only just begun. "MARSIS is already demonstrating the capability to detect structures and layers in the subsurface of Mars which are not detectable by other sensors, past or present," says Giovanni Picardi, MARSIS Principal Investigator.