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Assessment of processing and interpretation tools in preparation of the WISDOM/ExoMars Ground Penetrating Radar operations on Mars

Abstract : From summer 2023, the Rosalind Franklin rover of the ExoMars 2022 mission (ESA/ROSCOSMOS) will seek out past or present traces of life down to 2 m in the Martian subsurface with a drill, where collected samples could have been shielded from the harsh conditions of the surface. In order to give an insight into the structure and composition of the shallow subsurface prior to any drilling operations, and to provide clues on the geological context of the rover landing site, one of the 9 instruments onboard Rosalind Franklin is a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR): WISDOM (Water Ice and Subsurface Deposits Observation on Mars). WISDOM will sound the first meters of the Martian shallow subsurface with a vertical resolution of a few cm. This thesis was dedicated to the assessment and implementation of new and sophisticated tools in the processing and interpretation chain of the WISDOM data, enhancing the quality and readability of future Martian observations.Data acquired by WISDOM consist in“radargrams”, displaying the amplitude of received signals (after reflection/scattering on subsurface structures) as a function of their time delays. Converting these time delays into distances requires the knowledge of the propagation speed of electromagnetic waves in the subsurface, which is linked to the dielectric permittivity of this subsurface. In the case of WISDOM, this property can be estimated from the surface echo intensity or from the shape of diffraction curves from scatter points buried in the subsurface. Since, unlike most GPR, WISDOM antennas are not directly on the ground, the latter method must account for the refraction of radar signals at the surface, which impacts the shape of the curves and thus the permittivity estimation. During this thesis, an automated tool of detection and characterization of diffraction curves was developed and validated, guarantying the display of radargrams as a function of distance.This thesis also focused on the enhancement of the vertical resolution (in range/depth) of WISDOM radargrams. The instrument operating on a large frequency bandwidth, a resolution of a few cm in the subsurface is already assured. A super-resolution technique based on the “Bandwidth Extrapolation” (BWE) was tested and implemented to the WISDOM data processing chain. This resulted in an improvement of the range resolution by a factor of 3. Such improvement has numerous positive implications on the interpretation of future WISDOM radargrams; echoes before impossible to separate can be now discriminated. Potential improvements of the BWE, exploiting for instance the polarimetric capabilities of WISDOM were also explored.Tools implemented during this thesis were systematically validated on both synthetic (analytical or simulated) and experimental data acquired on Earth with replicas of WISDOM instrument (in laboratory or natural environments). Two field campaigns were organised in the frame of this thesis (in the Desert of Atacama and at the Technical University of Dresden (TUD)), providing interesting datasets to validate the WISDOM processing and interpretation chains on, in preparation of future Martian operations.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 4, 2021 - 7:14:14 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 20, 2022 - 3:20:47 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 7:14:00 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-03364662, version 1


Nicolas Oudart. Assessment of processing and interpretation tools in preparation of the WISDOM/ExoMars Ground Penetrating Radar operations on Mars. Earth and Planetary Astrophysics [astro-ph.EP]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2021. English. ⟨NNT : 2021UPASP065⟩. ⟨tel-03364662⟩



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