An estimation of the electrical characteristics of planetary shallow subsurfaces with TAPIR antennas



[1] In the frame of the NETLANDER program, we have developed the Terrestrial And Planetary Investigation by Radar (TAPIR) imaging ground-penetrating radar to explore the Martian subsurface at kilometric depths and search for potential water reservoirs. This instrument which is to operate from a fixed lander is based on a new concept which allows one to image the various underground reflectors by determining the direction of propagation of the reflected waves. The electrical parameters of the shallow subsurface (permittivity and conductivity) need to be known to correctly determine the propagation vector. In addition, these electrical parameters can bring valuable information on the nature of the materials close to the surface. The electric antennas of the radar are 35 m long resistively loaded monopoles that are laid on the ground. Their impedance, measured during a dedicated mode of operation of the radar, depends on the electrical parameters of soil and is used to infer the permittivity and conductivity of the upper layer of the subsurface. This paper presents an experimental and theoretical study of the antenna impedance and shows that the frequency profile of the antenna complex impedance can be used to retrieve the geoelectrical characteristics of the soil. Comparisons between a numerical modeling and in situ measurements have been successfully carried over various soils, showing a very good agreement.