Scientists have obtained a greatly improved view of the interior of the Northern Polar Cap on Mars.
Whether or not Mars was home to life in the distant past, or perhaps even today, is something we will probably soon find out. Numerous rovers and orbiters are exploring the red planet in an attempt to understand better what Mars was like billions of years ago, what it is like today, and what the red planet will be like in the future. Now, scientists used the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, aka MRO, to peer into the North Polar Cap on Mars. According to a statement published by the Planetary Institute, data from the MRO has enabled scientists to obtain a perspective view of the very inside of Planum Boreum.
The Martian North Pole
Planum Boreum is the northern polar plain on Mars. It is home to a year-round ice cap which is made mostly of water ice. Its volume has been estimated at around 1.2 million cubic kilometers. As per our latest calculations, it has a radius of around 600 kilometers. Its maximum depth is measured at 3 kilometers. The data by MRO has given scientists a much-improved view of the interior of the Northern Polar Cap. The three-dimensional radargram was assembled from data from various two-dimensional profiles. Also, the new radargram reveals many previously impossible features to map.
The data was obtained using the hallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument. SHARD is a state-of-the-art tool that has the ability to probe the subsurface up to four kilometers in depth. The instrument emits radar waves ranging from 15 to 25 megahertz. This allows it to achieve a depth resolution of approximately 15 meters. A paper describing the result was published in the Planetary Science Journal.