EGU24-18640, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

In search for liquid water using radio waves: from Earth to the icy moons of Jupiter

Elena Pettinelli
Elena Pettinelli
  • Roma Tre University, Mathematics and Physics, Italy (

Radar sounder (or Ice-penetrating radar) is one of the most suitable geophysical instruments to explore planets and moons given the very dry and/or cold conditions of their crusts, which favor the penetration of the radio waves at great depth. The first ever planetary subsurface radar was tested on the Moon, during the Apollo 17 mission: the ALSE (Apollo Lunar Sounder Experiment) multifrequency radar sounder operating onboard the Apollo Service Module (ASM) (Porcello et al., 1974). After this successful experiment more than twenty years passed before another radar sounder was included in the payload of a planetary mission. MARSIS was launched in 2003, on board Mars Express, and SHARAD in 2007 onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Since the successful deployed on Mars, such radars collected data for more than 15 years, mapping the structures of the Martian poles and discovering the first extraterrestrial stable body of subglacial liquid water below the South pole cap. Six orbiting radar sounders have been employed so far to explore the Moon, Mars and the 67P/GC comet, and some of them are still in full operation today. The Jupiter icy moons will be the next destination of a new generations of radars: RIME, already on his way to Ganymede onboard JUICE and REASON that will be launch this year onboard Europa Clipper. These radars will explore the icy shells of Europa, Ganymede and Callisto to establish their habitability conditions and in search for evidence of liquid water. Finally, also Venus will be investigated in the next decade by a similar radar to help understand the geological and climatic evolution of the Earth twin.

In this talk I will discuss the new opportunities and challenges for the radar sounder community in the years to come.

How to cite: Pettinelli, E.: In search for liquid water using radio waves: from Earth to the icy moons of Jupiter, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18640,, 2024.