Terrestrial and Martian Water Investigations Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR): Surveys of Hurricane Harvey Storm Deposits, Imaging of Ice in Mars Regolith Simulant, and Rover-Based GPR Suitability Mapping with GIS



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This thesis explores water effects on terrestrial and Martian environments using ground penetrating radar (GPR). It consists of three investigations. First, Hurricane Harvey flood deposits along Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas, were surveyed with Sensors and Software GPR systems and antennas. Ripples, cross-bedding, laminations, and a hyperbola were observed. The data show northeast-southwest striking beds consistent with flood waters overflowing from and receding into the waterways to the north and west. The interpreted velocity of the sand deposits decreased with depth and was 0.086 m/ns at 42 ns. Second, Mojave Mars Simulant (MMS-1) was used in a laboratory experiment to image buried objects and ice. The velocity of the regolith was determined to be 0.122 m/ns with a dielectric constant of 6.05 (unitless) at 1 GHz from hyperbola fitting and time-to-depth conversion. The acquired data was generally consistent with computer-modeled data and gave indications of the anomalies, but their size, strength, position, and number varied somewhat from the model. Third, global image layers of Martian dielectric constant, surface dust, surface block abundance, and slope were used to produce a GPR suitability map for rovers on the planet. The general trend shows favorable GPR suitability for the majority of the globe with the largest area of unfavorable GPR suitability around the Tharsis Rise. Of the proposed top 10 landing sites of NASA’s future rover missions, Eberswalde Crater had the highest GPR suitability in its 20 km radius rover-coverage area. SW Melas Basin had the lowest GPR suitability in its 20 km radius rover-coverage area. This thesis has identified water- and ice-related features that may inform us of past flooding events on Earth and Mars. Lab experiments have provided GPR signatures which indicate the presence of subsurface ice. GIS mapping of GPR- and rover-relevant features has highlighted the best areas for GPR surveying on Mars. GPR has shown itself to be a useful tool for detecting and mapping terrestrial and possibly Martian water- and ice-influenced environments.



GPR, Ground-penetrating radar, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricanes, MMS, Mojave Mars Simulant