SHARAD - Phase E
SHARAD Ground Data System (GDS) S/W Tools Design and Development (2005/2007)

CO.RI.S.T.A. has participated in Thales Alenia Space Italia team to the project for the design and realization of SHARAD (SHAllow RADar), the radar sounding proposed and financed by the Italian Space Agency for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter NASA mission.
The project started in June 2005 and ended in 2007.
CO.RI.S.T.A. has already taken part in the definition and implementation of ground test instruments, EGSE (Electrical Ground Support Equipment), and, in particular, in the implementation and validation of MEGS (Mars Echoes Generation System), which allows to simulate the radar echoes received by Mars surface (for more information, please check the page of  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Payload SHARAD project).

In this new project CO.RI.S.T.A. has been responsible for the implementation of specific tools, operative instruments of the Ground Data System, devoted to SHARAD data processing and to the estimate of the radar performances.

In particular CO.RI.S.T.A. has been in charge of the development of the following tools:

  • Science Data Processing/ Level 1B Tool
  • Science Data Quick Look Tool
  • Science Data Processing/ Level 2 Tool (optional)

The Ground Data System, which controls SHARAD radar, has three main functions:

  • planning and commanding, aimed at instrument operability definition (Planning Tool e Commanding Tool);
  • instrument checking, to verify the instrument functionality from an engineering point of view (Monitoring Tool), and from the instrument performances point of view (Quick Look Tool);
  • data processing, first to allow the scientific community a correct and uniform data interpretation in an unique standard format (Deformatting /Level 1A Tool), and then to carry out the processing and formatting of the obtained Level 1A data in successive products (Level 1B/Level 2 Tool).

SHARAD  has been conceived to search for water under Mars surface.
This planet, in some ways yet mysterious, seems an arid desert plunged in a continuous and intense cold (average temperature -55 °C).
Continuing in the international effort carried out to reveal Mars origins and evolution, SHARAD has been designed on the basis of the scientific information obtained during Mars previous missions, according to which scientists believe that water is probably present in the planet subsurface at a relatively low depth.
Therefore SHARAD definitions and performances have been defined with the aim of realizing an instrument able to analyze Mars soil and subsoil until maximum one kilometre depth, using a 15-25 MHz frequency band in order to get the desired high depth resolution.
The radar wave return, as it is captured by SHARAD antenna, reflects the characteristics of the rocks, of sand and of the water on the surface or in the subsurface of Mars. Water, like high-density rock, is very conducting and, therefore, has a strong radar return.

CO.RI.S.T.A. papers on the project:

  • G. Alberti, S. Mattei, S. Dinardo, C. Papa (CO.RI.S.T.A), D. Biccari, G. Picardi, R. Seu (INFO-COM, University of Rome La Sapienza), R. Orosei (INAF-IASF Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, CNR), R. Phillips (Washington University in St. Louis), A. Safaenili (Jet Propulsion Laboratories, California Institute of Technology), "Mars Ionosphere preliminary impact analysis on SHARAD radar signal", European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2007 Vienna, Austria, 15 – 20 April 2007.       
  • G. Alberti, S. Dinardo, S. Mattei, C. Papa, M.R. Santovito "SHARAD radar signal processing technique", IWAGPR 4 th International Workshop on Advanced Ground Penetrating Radar - June 27-29, 2007, Naples.       
  • Flamini, E.; Fois, F.; Calabrese, D.; Bombaci, O.; Catallo, C.; Croce, A.; Croci, R.; Guelfi, M.; Zampolini, E.; Picardi, G.; Seu, R.; Mecozzi, R.; Biccari, D.; Cartacci, M.; Cicchetti, A.; Masdea, A.; Alberti, G.; Maffei, S.; Papa, C. "Sounding Mars with SHARAD & MARSIS", Advanced Ground Penetrating Radar, 2007 4th International Workshop on , Issue Date: 27-29 June 2007.       
  • Fois, F.; Mecozzi, R.; Iorio, M.; Calabrese, D.; Bombaci, O.; Catallo, C.; Croce, A.; Croci, R.; Guelfi, M.; Zampolini, E.; Ravasi, D.; Molteni, M.; Ruggeri, P.; Ranieri, A.; Ottavianelli, M.; Flamini, E.; Picardi, G.; Seu, R.; Biccari, D.; Orosei, R.; Cartacci, M.; Cicchetti, A.; Masdea, A.; Giacomoni, E.; Cutigni, M.; Provenziani, M.; Fuga, O.; Alberti, G.; Mattei, S.; Papa, C.; Marras, P.; Tattarletti, B.; Vicari, D.; Bonaventura, F.; Paternò, T.; Di Placido, A.; Morlupi, A. "Comparison between MARSIS & SHARAD results", Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 2007. IGARSS 2007. IEEE International , Issue Date: 23-28 July 2007.       
  • R.Seu, D.Biccari, M.Cartacci, M.Cutigni, O.Fuga, E.Giacomoni, A.Masdea, P.Persi del Marmo, G.Picardi, M.Provenziani, F.Russo (Dipartimento INFOCOM, Università di Roma "La Sapienza"), R.J.Phillips, N.E.Putzig (Washington University, St. Louis, USA), G.Alberti, M.Bortone, S.Dinardo, S.Mattei, C.Papa, G.Pica, G.Salzillo, M.R. Santovito (CO.RI.S.T.A.), F.Bonaventura, A.Di Placido, A.Morlupi, T.Paternò, B.Tattarletti, D.Vicari (Info Solution Spa, Rome), D.Calabrese, C.Catallo, A.Croce, R.Croci, F.Fois, M.Guelfi, R.Mecozzi (Thales Alenia Space Italia,Rome), B.A.Campbell, L.M.Carter (Smithsonian Institution,Washington, USA), C.Federico, A.Frigeri ( Università di Perugia), E.Flamini (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), Yonggyu Gim, S.M.Milkovich, S.E.Smrekar (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology,Pasadena,USA), J.W.Holt (University of Texas at Austin,Austin,USA), W.Kofman, J.Mouginot (CNRS and Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble,France), C.J.Leuschen (University of Kansas,Lawrence,USA), L.Marinangeli (International Research School of Planetary Sciences,Pescara), R.Orosei (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica,Rome), E.Pettinelli (Università Roma Tre), "Accumulation and Erosion of Mars' South Polar Layered Deposits", Science 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, pp. 1715 - 1718. content/full/317/5845/1715
  • Seu, Roberto; Giacomoni, Emanuele; Biccari, Daniela; Cutigni, Marco; Russo, Federica; Taddei, Carlo; Fuga, Oreste; Orosei, Roberto; Mecozzi, Riccardo; Fois, Franco; Croci, Renato; Catallo, Claudio; Alberti, Giovanni; Mattei, Stefania; Papa, Claudio; Flamini, Enrico , "SHARAD, a shallow radar sounder to investigate the red planet", Radar Conference, 2008. RADAR '08. IEEE , Issue Date: 26-30 May 2008.       

Degree thesis developed on this subject:

  • Degree thesis "Data analysis and software development for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter space mission" developed by Luisa De Francesco, Second University of Naples, Faculty of Engineering, Degree course in Aerospace Engineering, academic year 2006/2007.

For further information please contact:

Stefania Mattei
Phone 081 5935101

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter using its SHARAD radar.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it orbits over the martian poles.

"Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter"  NASA mission started in August 2005. This innovative scientific orbiter arrived in Mars orbit in March 2006 to carry out a mission that was completed, for the first part, in December 2010, but was extended until October 2014.
Onboard the spacecraft there are six instruments: High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), Context Camera (CTX), Mars Color Imager (MARCI), Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), Mars Climate Sounder (MCS), e the Shallow Radar (SHARAD).
They will analyze in depth the surface, the subsurface and the atmosphere of Mars and identify sites for future landing on the Red Planet.