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Dielectric map of the Martian northern hemisphere and the nature of plain filling materials

Dielectric map of the Martian northern hemisphere and the nature of plain filling materials

Publication date: 19 January 2012

Authors: Mouginot, J. et al.

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 39
Issue: 2
Page: L02202
Year: 2012

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

A number of observations suggest that an extended ocean once covered a significant part of the Martian northern hemisphere. By probing the physical properties of the subsurface to unprecedented depth, the MARSIS/Mars Express provides new geophysical evidences for the former existence of a Late Hesperian ocean. The Vastitas Borealis formation, located inside a putative shoreline of the ancient ocean, has a low dielectric constant compared with that of typical volcanic materials. We show that the measured value is only consistent with low-density sedimentary deposits, massive deposits of ground-ice, or a combination of the two. In contrast, radar observations indicate a distribution of shallow ground ice in equilibrium with the atmosphere in the south polar region. We conclude that the northern plains are filled with remnants of a late Hesperian ocean, fed by water and sediments from the outflow channels about 3 Gy ago.

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