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Planetary Radar Science

Adapting and expanding terrestrial radio glaciology to the exploration of icy moons.

The exploration of icy moons using ice penetrating radar has many observational and geophysical commonalities with terrestrial radio glaciology. However, limitations in power, processing, and data volume make the collection and interpretation of planetary radar sounding data a distinct challenge. As part of the NASA’s Europa Clipper and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter science teams, we are working to develop and adapt novel observation and analysis techniques to maximize the scientific return from their radar instruments. These include studies evaluating and optimizing the geophysical performance of the RIME and REASON radar sounders (on the ESA and NASA Jupiter icy moon missions). We are also exploring the possibility of using Jovian decametric radiation as a signal of opportunity for sounding, developing a joint radar/stereo-imagery approach for flyby geodesy, and exploring the use of attenuation imaging to constrain ice-shell properties. Happily, these highly-optimized approaches are also powerful when applied to the comparatively data and signal rich observations of terrestrial ice sheets.

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