Searching for Water on Mars


Working under NASA's principle of "Follow the Water" the objectives of this investigation are to measure the electromagnetic properties of Mars analog materials under Mars ambient conditions.

Static magnetic experiments performed by Viking, Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity determined that magnetic minerals exist in Martian sediments. The presence of these magnetic minerals could make finding water on Mars using electromagnetic methods complicated. The frequency and temperature dependent properties of the Martian magnetic minerals, as well as their impact on electromagnetic measurements are unknown. Experience in places like Australia and Hawaii with high iron oxide content ("red") soils has shown that magnetic minerals can strongly impact electromagnetic geophysical exploration.

The frequency and temperature dependent complex magnetic permeability and complex dielectric permittivity of a variety of candidate Martian magnetic minerals have been measured. The results produced by this investigation are critical for the detection, characterization and mapping of subsurface water on Mars using electromagnetic methods.

Magnetic Susceptibility - a number of different devices were used to measure magnetic susceptibility over a large range of low frequencies (<100 kHz). Details about these measurements can be found here.

RADAR Properties - high frequency (>100 kHz) measurements of complex magnetic permeability and complex dielectric permittivity were made using a Network Analyzer with a frequency range from 30 kHz 3 GHz. Details about these measurements can be found here.

Characterization - in addition to the frequency measurements, some of the Martian analog samples have been characterized. Details about the characterizations can be found here.

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Space Dust Research