When the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-built Mars Perseverance Mars rover lands on the Red Planet in February, it will not only roam the surface in search of signs of ancient life but also peer underground with a first-of-its kind ground penetrating radar system, according to JPL.
The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment, or RIMFAX, will be the first ground-penetrating radar to be deployed on the surface of Mars, JPL said in a written statement.
“RIMFAX can provide a highly detailed view of subsurface structures down to at least 30 feet underground,” the statement said. “In doing so, the instrument will reveal hidden layers of geology and help find clues to past environments on Mars, especially those that may have provided the conditions necessary for supporting life.”
Researchers plan to “stack” multiple radar soundings to create a three-dimensional topographical map of the areas that Perseverance will explore, according to JPL.
The data is expected to provide a wealth of knowledge into the history of Mars’ geology and climate, as well as shed light on the ongoing search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The technology is similar to ground penetrating radars used on Earth to seek out buried utilities and underground caverns.
More information about NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission and the Perseverance rover is available online at nasa.gov/perseverance.