Developers from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in the desert in the Dhofar region in Oman conducted a test of the ScanMars detector, with the help of which cosmonauts will be able to search for water in the future on Mars. According to the organizers of the European Planetary Science congress, at which the device was presented, the detector tests were conducted in conditions as close as possible to the Martian ones.
Currently, Americans and Europeans are planning a flight of people to Mars and the organization of the colony on this planet. When sending people to Mars, the mass of cargo will be limited and part of the resources the colonists will have to look for locally, including water reserves, which can be used for drinking and household needs.
A new water detector looks like a metal detector. ScanMars is a platform on wheels, which cosmonauts must move along the surface under investigation. In the platform there is a small radar that sends radio frequency pulses at regular intervals and takes their reflections.
The detector tests were conducted in the desert in Oman within the framework of the AMADEE-18 mission, launched in February 2018. The mission of this mission is to simulate Martian conditions, including, for testing new technologies and developments.
As part of the tests, the developers produced about 70,000 radar surveys of a 1.4-kilometer section of the surface. At the same time, data on the ground was collected to a depth of five meters. According to the developers, the detector is not yet able to determine the presence of water in the ground, but can find various kinds of heterogeneity, which can indicate the presence of water.
In July 2018, researchers from the National Astrophysical Institute in Bologna announced the discovery of a subglacial pond with a diameter of about 20 kilometers at the south pole of Mars. For the study, the MARSIS radar was used aboard the European orbital probe Mars Express. Observations were conducted from May 2012 to December 2015.