Muon radiography for exploration of Mars geology 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, CA, USA
17 Jun 2013
2Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Received: 31 Aug 2012 – Published in Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst. Discuss.: 18 Oct 2012 Abstract. Muon radiography is a technique that uses naturally occurring showers of
muons (penetrating particles generated by cosmic rays) to image the interior
of large-scale geological structures in much the same way as standard X-ray
radiography is used to image the interior of smaller objects. Recent
developments and application of the technique to terrestrial volcanoes have
demonstrated that a low-power, passive muon detector can peer deep into
geological structures up to several kilometers in size, and provide crisp
density profile images of their interior at ten meter scale resolution.
Preliminary estimates of muon production on Mars indicate that the near
horizontal Martian muon flux, which could be used for muon radiography, is
as strong or stronger than that on Earth, making the technique suitable for
exploration of numerous high priority geological targets on Mars. The high
spatial resolution of muon radiography also makes the technique particularly
suited for the discovery and delineation of Martian caverns, the most likely
planetary environment for biological activity.
Revised: 29 Mar 2013 – Accepted: 07 Apr 2013 – Published: 17 Jun 2013
As a passive imaging technique, muon radiography uses the perpetually
present background cosmic ray radiation as the energy source for probing the
interior of structures from the surface of the planet. The passive nature of
the measurements provides an opportunity for a low power and low data rate
instrument for planetary exploration that could operate as a scientifically
valuable primary or secondary instrument in a variety of settings, with
minimal impact on the mission's other instruments and operation.
Citation: Kedar, S., Tanaka, H. K. M., Naudet, C. J., Jones, C. E., Plaut, J. P., and Webb, F. H.: Muon radiography for exploration of Mars geology, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 157-164, doi:10.5194/gi-2-157-2013, 2013.