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MARSES Project Information

MARSES is an integrated research experiment devoted to searching for water, water-ice or permafrost layers believed to exist at some depth under the visible surface of Mars. There is much evidence that water once was abundant on Mars. There are stream lined islands formed by flowing water, flow patterns reminiscent of wadis in Earth deserts, and outflow channels thought to have been formed by sudden out-rush of subterranean water. Secondary tasks are the measurement of the soil properties of the subsurface of Mars which include porosity, electrical resistance of the liquid phase, thermal conductivity, temperature dependence.

Estimates of Martian water ranges from a 50 to a 500 m deep planet-wide ocean. No obvious mechanism for the escape of water from the planet has been devised. Jean?s escape of water via the atmosphere is very slow (of the order of 3 m over 5 Gy). Assuming that Mars was formed with approximately the same relative amount of water as the Earth, it must be assumed that a substantial fraction of this water remains on Mars in one form or another. It is commonly believed to be bound as ice in the polar caps and, in the ground, as ice, icy permafrost or even as water. There is also indirect evidence for widespread presence of ice, bearing permafrost and liquid fase of water through the existence of rampart craters, terrain softening, chaotic terrain and thermokarst.

In order to ensure the greatest possible penetration of the electromagnetic waves into the ground the wavelength must be chosen as long as possible.

A main task of the MARSES system is to examine changes in subsurface properties of local areas regolith on Mars surface, and to relate them to optical Images and other remote sensing data in order to understand the nature of different terrain forms.

The responsibility for the development of the MARSES system and for the coordination of the modifications of the MARSES system and its operation will rest with MPICh, with key partners in JPL/NASA , IRE/RAS and IKI/RAS (Russia), CNRS CEPHAG and SA (France) and ESA/SSD (the Netherlands). A brief summary of the questions addressed by MARSES and the measurements which must be made in order to answer them is given in the following table.

Questions addressed Observations bearing on these question
Is there subsurface ice/permafrost on Mars? Presence of effects the induce polarization would be evidence of icy layers.
What is the depth of the layers and the nature of the layer transition? Determination of thermophysical parameters subsurface. Search for several frequency components..
Does the depth vary with latitude? MARSES sounding may covers a wide a range of latitudes
Do the layers and the subsurface sounding correlate with visible and radar surface features? Comparison of properties of MARSES sounding with changes in terrain and radar surface echo properties.
What is the porosity and temperature profile of the subsurface layers ? Measurement of the electrical resistivity subsurface layers .

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