European Space Agency European Mars Science and Exploration Conference: Mars Express & ExoMars ESTEC, Noordwijk, The

Netherlands, 12 - 16 November, 2007 CHARACTERIZATION OF RADAR-TRANSPARENT DEPOSITS IN THE SOUTHERN AND EASTERN ELYSIUM REGION OF MARS A. Safaeinili1, R. Orosei2. R. Phillips3 J. Plaut1, K. Doubleday1, Y. Gim1, B. Campbell4, R. Seu5,1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, 91109, USA. 2Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Rome 00133, Italy, 3Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University,St. Louis, MO 63130, USA,4 Center for Earth and Planetary Studies Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA, 5Dipartimento INFOCOM, University of Rome ``La Sapienza'', Rome 00184, Italy., Introduction: We present results on the Elysium Planitia near the equator that show evidence of shallow radio-transparent deposits. This is the largest radar transparent area away from the Mars polar layered deposits observed by either MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) and SHARAD (SHAllow RADar). The first indications of radar transparency in this region was provided by MARSIS. However, most of this region remained unexplored partly because of a lack of depth resolution of MARSIS that is ~80 meters in the subsurface. SHARAD is able to resolve these deposits better due to its higher bandwidth providing approximately 10 times better depth resolution. The MARSIS radar sounder operates over 4 bands between 1.3 MHz and 5.5 MHz and has a maximum bandwidth of 1 MHz. SHARAD operates between 15 MHz and 25 MHz with a maximum bandwidth of 10 MHz. Although SHARAD has higher resolution, its performance can be degraded due to surface roughness causing a loss of coherence in radar echo which in turn can make the detection more difficult. Radar Observations: We measure the depth of the deposit to be up to 200-meters thick assuming a dielectric constant of 4. The origin of this terrain has been attributed to volcanic flows [1,5], but also aqueous or sedimentary processes [2]. If there are remnant water ice deposits in this region, they must be covered by a protective layer of material to prevent sublimation. The question is whether the radar data can provide clues about the nature of these deposits. The radar data indicate transparent deposits that can be consistent with both an aqueous and volcanic origin. However, these radar data can also measure the extent of these regions, which can provide additional information about the nature of these deposits. The fact that we observe a similar thickness and distribution of deposit in the Elysium [3] as well as the Amazonis [4], suggests the possibility of a common mechanism responsible for these deposits. We have collected data over many parallel tracks enabling us to develop a map of the subsurface of this region. Figure 1 shows radargrams from three parallel SHARAD tracks. The radargram shows a

Figure 1. Three parallel SHARAD tracks over the Elysium planitia showing a single subsurface interface at a depth of 60 m.

continuous interface with clear indication of a second deeper interface in the beginning of the track. We interpret these as boundaries between different flow episodes. It is possible that other boundaries exist but it is not observed by the radar. Summary: Both MARSIS and SHARAD provide evidence of an extensive shallow (< 300 meters) radio-transparent deposit covering the northern plains of Mars including the Elysium [3] and Amazonis [4]. These deposits are up to 200-meters thick in the Elysium region. Similar depth and radar signature between the Elysium and Amazonis regions point to common mechanism. Acknowledgments: SHARAD was provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for use on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. MARSIS is a joint project of ASI and NASA. Some of the work described herein was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under contract with NASA.
References: [1] Hartmann, W. K. and D. C. Berman, J. Geophys Res., 105, 15,011, 2000. [2] Murray et al Nature, Vol. 34, pp 352-355, 2005. [3] Safaeinili et al., Seventh international Mars Conference, 2007. [4] Campbell et al., Seventh international Mars Conference, 2007. [5] Plescia, J.B., Icarus 164 (2003) 79–95.

Seventh International Conference on Mars 3206.pdf

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