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PSI Team Receives Funding For New NASA PORPASS Project

Than PORPASS image

The Shallow Radar (SHARAD) onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) "pings" the surface of Mars in search of a strong radar return wave that may indicate the presence of underground layering or water ice.

Credit: NASA/JPL


A team led by PSI’s Than Putzig of our Colorado office, in conjunction with the Colorado School of Mines, has received funding for a new NASA project named PORPASS, the Planetary Orbital Radar Processing and Simulation System. PORPASS team, or pod, members include PSI’s Matthew Perry, Gareth Morgan, Zach Bain and Gavin Nelson. 

PORPASS will be  built around a new generalized radar sounder processor (GRaSP) and a new 3D orbital radar simulator (OaRS). PORPASS will access orbital radar data from the Planetary Data System or equivalent archive and use GRaSP to carry out customized processing for a chosen instrument and set of parameters. OaRS will generate simulated radar data using parameterized spacecraft orbital parameters, instrument configurations, space and planetary environments, surface topography, and subsurface attenuation and scattering effects.  

The idea for this project grew from the realization that although a broad array of tools and capabilities had been developed around the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) over a 15-year period, there was no means in place to preserve those capabilities beyond the life of the mission. The same precarious situation applies to other past and ongoing missions, so the team decided to propose the first step in creating a long-term repository for planetary radar capabilities. 

“Since the announcement of our grant selection, NASA has decided to drop all US support for MARSIS, the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, which flies on the European Mars Express orbiter,” Putzig said. “Thus the need for PORPASS has really been highlighted just as we are getting underway with the project.”

June 21, 2002
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