Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Shallow Radar Sounder

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Shallow Radar (SHARAD) sounder emits a 10-watt chirped pulse downswept from 25 to 15 MHz, yielding a 15-meter range resolution in free-space.

2D Radagram of observation 28213-01 of the Martian North Polar Layered Deposits (NPLD). The data was processed through the Smithsonian SHARAD focused processor, which performs multi-look synthetic-aperture processing to reveal the underlying structure all the way to its base at a depth of around 1.5 kilometers!

Dielectric contrasts between the atmosphere and surface and between layers in the subsurface (e.g., water and carbon-dioxide ices, ash deposits, lava flows) reflect a portion of the radar signal back toward the spacecraft. The returned signals are detected by the same SHARAD antenna that transmitted the original signal moments earlier. The data are processed onboard and back on Earth to produce 2D radargrams, which are cross-sectional views of the returned signal power along MRO's ground track.

For more information regarding SHARAD operations, data collection, and processing, please review the relevant SHARAD PDS Documentation.

SHARAD was provided to MRO by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and is operated under contract to SHARAD Team Leader Roberto Seu at the Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione, Elettronica e Telecomunicazioni (DIET), Sapienza – Università di Roma. U.S. team members contribute to operations through the coordination of instrument targeting, led by U.S./Deputy Team Leader Nathaniel Putzig, at the Planetary Science Institute (PSI).

Current SHARAD Investigators

Name Position Institution
Roberto Seu Team Leader Sapienza Università di Roma
Nathaniel Putzig U.S./Deputy Team Leader Planetary Science Institute
Matthew R. Perry CO-SHARPS System Manager / Co-Investigator Planetary Science Institute
Fabrizio Bernardini Operations Manager Sapienza Università di Roma
Bruce Campbell Co-Investigator Smithsonian Institute
Lynn Carter Co-Investigator University of Arizona
John Holt Co-Investigator University of Arizona
Wlodek Kofman Co-Investigator Université Grenoble Alpes
Lucia Marinangeli Co-Investigator Università G. d’Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara
Gareth Morgan Co-Investigator Planetary Science Institute
Daniel Nunes Co-Investigator Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Roberto Orosei Co-Investigator Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica
Elena Pettinelli Co-Investigator Università Roma Tre
Jeff Plaut Co-Investigator Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Isaac Smith Co-Investigator York University

The Colorado SHARAD Processing System at PSI

In addition to operations support, the U.S. team developed the Colorado SHARAD Radar Processing System (CO-SHARPS), which supplements the Italian-produced standard SHARAD products archived in the Planetary Data System. A primary feature of CO-SHARPS is the processing boutique, which allows the use of custom processing parameters to produce radargrams that may better resolve features specific to individual locations on Mars. CO-SHARPS was established in 2006 (as WU-SHARPS at Washington University in St. Louis) by former SHARAD U.S./Deputy Team Leader Roger Phillips. Since 2016, PSI hosts CO-SHARPS on behalf of the U.S. team.

Access to the CO-SHARPS Processing Boutique is open to all interested parties. For internet security purposes, we provide each user with login credentials. Please click the 'Request CO-SHARPS Access' button and complete the form. A CO-SHARPS staff member will respond with instructions for accessing the system.

Current Staffing

Position Name
Project Manager Nathaniel Putzig
System Scientist Gareth Morgan
System Manager Matthew R Perry
System Administrator Gavin Nelson
System Consultant Fabrizio Bernardini
System Analyst Aaron Russell
System Analyst Megan B Russell

Recent SHARAD Publications

5 Most Recent Publications

A hypothesis for undetectable flow at the polar layered deposits of MarsSmith, I.B.Icarus
Automatic Extraction of Martian Subsurface Layer from Radargrams Based on PDE Denoising and KL FilterShu and YeRemote Sensing
3D imaging of Mars’ shallow subsurface with orbital radar dataFoss, Frederick J., et al.Seventh International Conference on Engineering Geophysics, Al Ain, UAE, 16–19 October 2023
Recent Widespread Deposition in the Martian North and South Polar Layered Deposits as Revealed by Multiband SHARAD Surface ReflectivityJawin and CampbellJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Observation of solar radio burst events from Mars orbit with the Shallow Radar instrumentGerekos, Christopher., et al.Astronomy & Astrophysics