A new radar image obtained by China’s Mars rover Zhurong provides insights into the surface structure of the Utopia Planitia basin. The findings – which reveal multiple sub-layers suggestive of sediment deposition following episodic flooding millions of years ago – may improve our understanding of the planets’ geological and hydrological history.
Utopia is an impact crater on Mars that is widely believed to have hosted an ancient ocean, making it a key target for exploration. However, we haven’t had any new ground-based data from this region for 45 years, since the Viking-2 rover mission.
In 2021, the Zhurong rover successfully landed on Mars, as part of China’s first mission to the Red Planet. Zhurong has since been traversing the Martian landscape, with the aim of providing further insight into Utopia’s surface.
CHEN Ling and colleagues from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences presented an image of the surface of southern Utopia Planitia constructed from ground-penetrating radar data collected by Zhurong as it travelled approximately 1,117 metres from its landing site.
The image reveals that the ground of the Utopia basin is segmented into multiple sub-surface layers, approximately 70 metres thick in total. On the surface lies a layer of regolith (loose rock and dust) less than 10 metres thick.
Although the authors caution that alternative models need to be investigated, they state that the layered structure may indicate that the basin experienced episodic flooding during the Late Hesperian to Amazonian period.
The authors conclude by highlighting that although radar data from Zhurong alone did not provide direct evidence for the presence of liquid water in the upper 80 metres of the basin surface, its presence at lower depths cannot yet be ruled out. (Nature)
Results of the findings were published in Nature on Sept. 26.
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.
With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook – our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don’t have a paywall – with those annoying usernames and passwords.
Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.
If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
$5 Billed Once
credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly
China’s Mars rover reveals more of subsurface
Beijing (XNA) Sep 27, 2022
What does the subsurface of Mars’ northern lowlands have in common with a French mille crepe cake? They both consist of a number of layers, according to the latest findings by China’s Zhurong Mars rover published in the journal Nature on Monday.
The discovery showed that the evolution of the Martian surface environment is more varied and complex than previously anticipated, experts said. Last year, the Zhurong rover landed in Utopia Planitia, a large plain that scientists suspect was once a massiv … read more