The program of scientists of the Moscow state University will improve the radar for interplanetary probes

© Photo : Eleplant apparatus ExoMars 2016 landing apparatus SchiaparelliThe program of scientists of the Moscow state University will improve the radar for interplanetary probes© Photos : ESA

Physicists from Russia and Europe has developed a unique algorithm which allows you to improve the quality of the radar installed on Board satellites, studying Mars, the moon and other planets, and clean up their signal from interference, according to an article published in the journal Radio Science.

«We plan to actively use our algorithm in the research of celestial bodies, the moon, Mars and the moons of Jupiter in the framework of the research program «Mars Express» Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, JUICE and other spacecraft that are already running or will be sent into space,» said Yaroslav Ilyushin, a physicist from Moscow state University named after M. V. Lomonosov.

Many space probes that study today of planets in the Solar system, is equipped with a set of radars, whose radio waves can penetrate to quite a great depth in the bowels of the planet and collect data about their structure and topography. Such information has helped scientists to make a lot of discoveries – for example, the SHARAD radar on Board the probe Mars reconnaissance Orbiter was able to measure the thickness of the polar caps of Mars to find giant deposits of ice in the middle latitudes and to estimate the total water on the red planet.

On the other hand, many small parts of the surface of the planet remain unknown to scientists, as the signal of this radar follows the inevitable noise generated by the processes in the ionosphere of planets or cosmic rays and solar plasma. In addition, their work interfere with the irregularities of the surface of the planet, adding to the «echo» and other noises in the data collected by SHARAD and his «cousins».

Ilyushin and his colleagues figured out how to «remove» the interference from a signal, creating a computer model of radar that predicts where there should be these noises and what they will involve, based on data on the topography of the planet and how to operate the device itself. In addition to topography, this algorithm takes into account how the ionosphere of Mars and other worlds affects the radio waves of the radar and scatters them.

To demonstrate its efficiency, the researchers used data on the device surface and the structure of the interior of Mars, which were collected from two different instrument – laser altimeter MOLA on Board Mars Global Surveyor probe and the MARSIS radar, mounted on the interplanetary station «Mars-Express».

Using data from MOLA and the algorithm, the scientists were able to remove most of the interference from the signal MARSIS, reducing their strength by 15-25 decibels, and significantly improve the picture quality, even in cases when the probe is «looking» to Mars with the most awkward of angles. As scientists hope that their development will find application in work and the existing and upcoming launch missions to Mars and other planets of the Solar system.