Mars radar study can map Earth freshwater aquifers
Washington: A radar primarily designed to explore the subsurface of Mars, is being used to map freshwater aquifers buried deep beneath our deserts, according to NASA.
Deserts cover 20 percent of our landmass, including highly populated regions in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, west and central Asia and the southwestern US.
A team led by Essam Heggy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, California, recently mapped the depth and extent of aquifers in northern Kuwair with the Mars airborne sounding radar prototype, according to a NASA statement.
"This research will help scientists better understand earth's fossil aquifer systems, the approximate number, occurrence and distribution of which remain largely unknown," said Heggy.
For two weeks, the team flew a chopper equipped with the radar on 12 low-altitude passes (1,000 feet) over two well-known freshwater aquifers, probing the desert subsurface for water table at depths between 66 and 213 feet.
Researchers successfully showed that the radar could locate subsurface aquifers, probe variations in the depth of the water table, and identify locations where water flowed into and out of the aquifers.
The 40-megahertz, low-frequency sounding radar was provided by the California Institute of Technology and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France.