Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ground-Penetrating Radar

Here's something very interesting from MSNBC this morning:
GREENSBURG, Kan. - Scientists located a rare meteorite in a Kansas wheat field thanks to new ground penetrating radar technology that some day might be used on Mars.

...The newest find weighs 154 lbs and measures 18 by 12 by 12, which is bigger than most such meteorites but on par for this particular field, Arnold said.

"What is unique is not the size, but the fact it was found in context," said Patricia Reiff, director of the Rice Space Institute.

Researchers documented every aspect of the dig from various scientific disciplines. Among them were an archaeologist, a paleontologist, a naturalist, geologists, astronomers, and even an animator, who recreated the meteor fall for the museum.

...But few garnered as much attention as Essam Heggy, planetary scientist at the Johnson Space Center's Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. It was his ground-penetrating technology that pinpointed the site and proved for the first time that the technology could be used to find objects buried deep in the ground and to make an accurate three-dimensional image of them.

"It validates the technique so we can use something similar to that instrument when we go to Mars," Reiff said.

Such GPR systems had been used in the past to locate smaller meteorites in Antarctica where ice allows easier penetration of the sonar. But until the Kansas dig, the technology had not been successfully used for ground detection in heavy soils, like what might be encountered in Mars, to find meteorites or water there.

The full article is here.

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