Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UI search for water on Mars set for June 2 launch

04.06.2003


NASA-funded project to search for underground water on Mars



University of Iowa professor and space physicist Don Gurnett is hoping to receive an uplifting word from western Asia on Monday.

That’s because Gurnett heads a $7 million, NASA-funded project to search for underground water on Mars, a project whose radar instrument is aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft using a Soyuz rocket and scheduled for launch at 12:45 p.m. CDT Monday, June 2 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.


Called MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding), the joint Italian-U.S. project includes the University of Rome and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Co-Investigator Gurnett at the University of Iowa.

Gurnett and his UI colleagues Rich Huff, Don Kirchner and Jim Phillips developed the 130-foot-long antenna and related electrical instruments that the Mars-orbiting spacecraft will use to probe several miles beneath the planet’s surface, as well as study the ionosphere in the Martian skies. Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids designed the radio transmitter, which is coupled to the antennas. The entire MARSIS instrument weighs 12 kilograms, or about 26 pounds. The UI radar package is one of eight instruments aboard the craft, scheduled to arrive at Mars in late December.

Gurnett says that the project offers an excellent opportunity to learn what happened to the water that most scientists believe was responsible for shaping the planet’s deep canyons, some of which are longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon. Because the planet’s atmospheric pressure is extremely low, liquid water would have long ago evaporated from the surface. Results gathered by Mars Global Surveyor suggest that water may exist below the surface. Water may exist just below the surface in the form of permafrost and, farther down, as a liquid due to radioactive heating from the interior of the planet.

"Our objective is to use a low-frequency radar to penetrate the Martian surface to a depth of five kilometers -- about three miles," he says. "As the radar signal penetrates into the permafrost, we should be able to detect a strong radar reflection from the ice-water interface. The hope is that we’ll be able to detect the interface and tell how much water is there." Other radar echoes should reveal boundaries between different kinds of geologic materials, such as layers of lava, sheets of sand, sediments, debris from impacts, and ice-rich rock and soils.

The other part of the project involves examining the Martian ionosphere, the electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere that on Earth reflects radio signals back to the ground, sometimes hundreds of miles from their point of origin. Researchers will bounce radar signals off of the ionosphere and measure the time delay of the signals to learn the shape and height of the ionosphere.

Gurnett’s UI research team for many years has specialized in the construction of low-frequency, space-borne radio systems. Unlike the much-higher frequency radars normally used by airplanes and spacecraft to map surface features, the low-frequency radar provided by the UI team will penetrate deep beneath subsurface rocks and permafrost on Mars. The UI team has provided low-frequency radio antennas and receivers for numerous spacecraft, including Cassini, scheduled to arrive at Saturn in 2004.

Gurnett, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is a veteran of more than 25 major spacecraft projects, including the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flights to the outer planets, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He made the first observations of plasma waves and low-frequency radio emissions in the magnetospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and discovered lightning in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Neptune. Gurnett and his UI colleagues have over 120 years of spacecraft instrument design and construction between them.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Gary Galluzzo, Writer, 319-384-0009, mailto:gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; Franco Bonacina, European Space Agency, 33-1-5369-7713

Gary Galluzzo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Australian technology installed on world’s largest single-dish radio telescope
26.09.2016 | International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)

nachricht How to merge two black holes in a simple way
26.09.2016 | Plataforma SINC

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stronger turbine blades with molybdenum silicides

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Scientists Find Twisting 3-D Raceway for Electrons in Nanoscale Crystal Slices

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Lowering the Heat Makes New Materials Possible While Saving Energy

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>