Tomography of the Martian ground using inverse solutions for ELF waves generated by dust storms in the ground-ionosphere waveguide

Project realized by:

AGH Science and Technology University and Jagiellonian University (Faculties: FAIS and GIG)

Aim of the project:

Detection of atmospheric discharges on Mars and determination of the structure of Mars subsurface

Description of the project:

Due to the particularly low attenuation of electromagnetic ELF (Extremely Low Frequencies, 3 Hz- 3kHz) waves in planetary environments, ELF waves are particularly predisposed to study the electrical activity of the atmosphere. On Earth, ELF wave analysis methods are so advanced that they enable determining coordinates and parameters of atmospheric discharges of different types as well as mapping storm centers on a global scale. These methods can be successfully transferred to Mars. A single ELF station on the Martian surface will be able to detect signals from sufficiently strong discharge occurring anywhere in the planetary atmosphere. Such discharges on Mars can be related to electrical activity of Martian dust storms. Due to a significant depth of ELF wave penetration into the subsurface of Mars, due to lack of liquid water at the planetary surface, research on ELF propagation creates a unique opportunity to determine the subsurface structure of Mars. Analyzing waveforms of ELF pulses and Schumann resonance parameters (resonance of a planetary cavity made up of the ionosphere and the high-conductivity planetary subsurface layers) can allow for reconstruction of the subsurface layers of Mars. For example, this kind of ELF tomography can be used on Mars to determine whether and where underground water is located.

Project methodology:

  • Design and manufacture of a prototype of the Martian measuring ELF station and EM sensors for EM ELF wave measurements in desert environments on Earth and for a wind tunnel tests
  • Theoretical calculations of ELF wave propagation carried out in the Mathematica environment
  • Laboratory simulations in the wind tunnel inthe aeolian laboratory to measure ELF waves generation by tricoelectric phenomena
  • Laboratory work – preparation of materials for wind tunnel tests in the sediment laboratories: sieves, Mastersizer, Malvern Morphologi G3
  • Field work on Martian analogues – measurement of electromagnetic fields generated by dust and dust-sand storms in the area of southern Morocco, in a campaign lasting about 3 months