|A new device called ScanMars can check underground features of Mars by sending and receiving radio-wave impulses / Photo by CC0 Public Domain via Maxpixel.net|
Mars has long fascinated us human beings, for being so near yet so far. Books have been written about it, movies made, and grand plans from some of the greatest minds the world has ever known are being hatched or set in motion for its eventual conquest.
Of course, even as the prospect of putting a human being on the surface of Mars is becoming closer and closer to reality, the idea of making it our second home is still a long shot. One of the obvious and biggest prerequisites for this venture is the fact that there should be an adequate amount of water available on the planet for it to be a habitable place. There is indeed solid evidence that water exists on Mars, or at least in frozen form that is found at the planet’s poles. But humans aren’t expected to stay on those extreme spots on the planet, which means water needs to be found at other locations as well.
A new device might be the help future Martian pioneers need, according to a report published on the website universetoday.com.
The device, called the ScanMars, is currently under development by a research team from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) Planetologia Spaziali and the University of Perugia. Earlier this year they tested the device at the Dhofar region in Oman as part of the AMADEE-18 Mission spearheaded by the Austrian Space Forum. The test run was conducted to see if the device could actually work in the arid environments similar to Mars.
The ScanMars looks similar to a regular metal detector, with a sledge that has a plethora of instruments and contacts the ground surface, and is moved by the astronauts with a long handle. It checks for underground features by sending and receiving radio-wave impulses. The device then constructs an image of those underground features upon collection of the signals that were reflected. Currently, ScanMars can scan up to a depth of five meters and can collect up to 70,000 radar echoes spanning 1.4 kilometers.
INAF’s Dr. Alessandro Frigeri said, “…we consider ScanMars a success due to the volume of new experience created among the scientific team, the operations’ team, and the field crew.”