Local geoelectrical models of the Martian subsurface for shallow groundwater detection using sounding radars

Essam Heggy, P. Paillou, F. Costard, N. Mangold, G. Ruffie, F. Demontoux, G. Grandjean, J. M. Malézieux

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Low-frequency sounding radars should be able to probe the Martian subsurface layers down to varying depths, depending on the geoelectrical properties of the sounded sites. We present in this work four frequency-dependent geoelectrical models of the Martian subsurface in the 1-20 MHz frequency band, based on laboratory electromagnetic characterization of Martian soil analogues. Those models correspond to local Martian sites that we considered to be of particular interest in the search for water using mainly the Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) instrument of the Netlander mission. Results and discussion are also valid for both sounding experiments MARSIS and SHARAD. The four models of the Martian subsurface are designed to represent terrains where recent fluvial-like features suggest the presence of near-subsurface ground ice and probably liquid water. We performed measurements on volcanic and sedimentary materials that may be present on these sites under the appropriate geophysical conditions that may exist in those terrains. We then simulated the backscattered radar echo arising from each site in the 2 MHz frequency band, using the Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) algorithm, in order to evaluate the instrument performances to probe the subsurface stratigraphy of each site. Our results confirm that the near-subsurface rich iron oxide mineralogy controls the instrument performances in terms of penetration depth and signal-to-noise ratio in the 2 MHz frequency band. We finally discuss the geophysical and geoelectrical sounding conditions that could lead to an ambiguous detection of shallow subsurface water on Mars for the Netlander GPR.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • FDTD
  • GPR
  • Hydrology
  • Mars
  • Simulation
  • Sounding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

Heggy, E., Paillou, P., Costard, F., Mangold, N., Ruffie, G., Demontoux, F., Grandjean, G., & Malézieux, J. M. (2003). Local geoelectrical models of the Martian subsurface for shallow groundwater detection using sounding radars. Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, 108(4).