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Observations of the Martian Polar Layered Deposits with the MARSIS and THEMIS instruments

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Ivanov (JPL)

One of the many goals of Martian exploration is to uncover the history of Mars through analysis of the polar layered deposits (PLD). Martian polar ice caps contain most of the exposed water ice on the surface on Mars and yet their history and physical processes involved in their formation remain unclear. This work will concentrate on analysis of the internal structure of the North (NPLD) and South Polar Layered Deposits (SPLD) using Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) experiment data and Mars Odyssey THermal EMission System (THEMIS) instruments.

The THEMIS instrument is in its 6th year of operations and has completed almost 3 Martian years of operations. Here we will present results of our polar mosaicing campaigns and some preliminary results on the structure of the Polar Layered Deposits observed using VISible subsystem of the THEMIS instrument. We also have a separate campaign for tracking retreat of the seasonal CO2 ice cap.

The MARSIS instrument is in its second year of operations and has completed coverage of both South and Polar Layered Deposits. In the SPLD we will concentrate on two smaller regions : a region between 86S-80S and 170E-220E (very smooth area of SPLD) and a region located near topographic maximum of SPLD. We will present analysis of multiple MARSIS passes in these regions to look for significant signature of internal layers and their extent. Our preliminary interpretation of these data suggests that detection of individual layers in SPLD is complicated due to the nature of radar wave propagation inside a layered structure. However, we were able to identify a consistent interface which can be correlated with layers exposed on the surface.

We know from optical and other remote sensing measurements that North and South layered deposits are quite different in appearance. We will present some preliminary comparisons of their subsurface structure.

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