Using MARSIS signal attenuation to assess the presence of South Polar Layered Deposit subglacial brines

Article


Lauro, Sebastian E., Pettinelli, Elena, Caprarelli, Graziella, Baniamerian, Jamaledin, Mattei, Elisabetta, Cosciotti, Barbara, Stillman, David E., Primm, Katherine M., Soldovieri, Francesco and Orosei, Roberto. 2022. "Using MARSIS signal attenuation to assess the presence of South Polar Layered Deposit subglacial brines." Nature Communications. 13 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33389-4
Article Title

Using MARSIS signal attenuation to assess the presence of South Polar Layered Deposit subglacial brines

ERA Journal ID122966
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsLauro, Sebastian E., Pettinelli, Elena, Caprarelli, Graziella, Baniamerian, Jamaledin, Mattei, Elisabetta, Cosciotti, Barbara, Stillman, David E., Primm, Katherine M., Soldovieri, Francesco and Orosei, Roberto
Journal TitleNature Communications
Journal Citation13 (1)
Article Number5686
Number of Pages10
Year2022
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN2041-1723
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33389-4
Web Address (URL)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-33389-4
Abstract

Knowledge of the physical and thermal properties of the South Polar Layer Deposits (SPLD) is key to constrain the source of bright basal reflections at Ultimi Scopuli detected by the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) radar sounder. Here we present a detailed analysis of attenuation, based on data acquired by MARSIS at 3, 4, and 5 MHz. We show that attenuation is frequency dependent, and that its behavior is consistent throughout the entire region. This suggests that the SPLD are compositionally homogeneous at Ultimi Scopuli, and our results are consistent with dust contents of 5 to 12%. Using these values as input, and plausible estimates of surface temperature and heat flux, we inferred basal temperatures around 200 K: these are consistent with perchlorate brines within liquid vein networks as the source of the reflections. Furthermore, extrapolation of the attenuation to higher frequencies explains why SHARAD (Shallow Radar) has thus far not detected basal reflections within the SPLD at Ultimi Scopuli.

KeywordsSouth Polar Layer Deposits (SPLD); MARSIS ; SHARAD
Byline AffiliationsThird University of Rome, Italy
Centre for Astrophysics
Southwest Research Institute, United States
Planetary Science Institute, United States
National Research Council, Italy
National Institute for Astrophysics, Italy
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