Discrimination Between Dry and Water Ices by Full Polarimetric Radar: Implications for China's First Martian Exploration

Hai Liu, Jianhui Li, Xu Meng, Bin Zhou, Guangyou Fang, Billie F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


China's first Mars rover named 'Zhurong' has begun its exploration at the surface of the Utopian Plain in the Martian northern hemisphere on May 22, 2021. Mars rover penetrating radar (RoPeR) is one of the key payloads onboard the Zhurong rover and one of its prima scientific objectives is to detect potential water ice and/or dry ice in the subsurface soil at the landing site. The high-frequency channel of RoPeR, which is equipped with a fully-polarized antenna array with a center frequency of 1.3 GHz, can record full polarimetric radar reflections from subsurface anomalies. In this article, a radar system with a polarimetric antenna array the same as RoPeR was set up and carefully calibrated. Laboratory experiments were carried out to test the feasibility of RoPeR in the detection and discrimination of potential dry ice and/or water ice in Martian soils. The experimental results indicate that the reflection signals from the bottom of the dry ice and water ice samples present different polarimetric scattering characterizations. The characteristic polarimetric scattering features of dry ice and water ice revealed in this article would guide the analysis and interpretation of the real data acquired by RoPeR on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5100111
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - 2023


  • China's Mars mission
  • Mars rover penetrating radar (RoPeR)
  • Zhurong rover
  • ice detection
  • polarization decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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