Case study 1: to be released Monday, July 2.

This assignment is for 25 points maximum in your semester grade.
You will post your work on (Register and enroll in our class area at


  1. Mars exploration: Going underground, Tony Reichardt, Nature 435, 266-267 (19 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435266a


    Editor's blurb:
    A new generation of planetary radar aims to look deeper than ever into some of the Solar System's most enduring mysteries. Tony Reichhardt gets ready for a trip to the interior.

  1. Study first paragraph and Fig. 1 of the Plaut, J. J. et al. article:
    Subsurface Radar Sounding of the South Polar Layered Deposits of Mars, Jeffrey J. Plaut, Science 6 April 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5821, pp. 92 - 95 | doi: 10.1126/science.1139672


    First paragraph:
    The polar regions of Mars are covered with extensive finely layered deposits that contain a record of climate variations of an unknown time span (1). Although the precise composition of the deposits is unknown, it is believed that they are predominantly water ice and that they represent the largest known reservoir of H2O on the planet (2). We applied a technique commonly used to study the interior of ice sheets and glaciers on Earth—radar echo sounding—to study the south polar layered deposits (SPLD) of Mars. We report here on observations of the SPLDs by the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument on the Mars Express orbiter. The data were used to characterize the electrical properties of the deposits in order to understand their composition, map the topography of the bed of the deposits, and measure the total volume of the SPLD.

Writing tasks
  1. According to Reichardt's 2005 article, radar mapping lacks "respect" and MARSIS researcher Roberto Seu admits "Most planetary scientists don't believe in radar." After studying the first paragraph and Fig. 1 in the Plaut et al. article, do YOU believe in the MARSIS radar survey? Answer yes or no, and explain briefly why you answered yes or no. Use one sentence only. (5 points)

  2. Examine Fig. 1. A is the side view of MARSIS radar imaging, and B is the overhead view from laser altimeter. Parts C and D are similar, but for another satellite pass over a different region. While you study the images, make a decision, yea or nay, about whether this ice formation could be a frozen ocean. What is the primary feature in A/B or in C/D or in both sets that lead you to decide yea or nay? Write a short paragraph of 3 or 4 sentences that clearly state your decision and the justification that lead you do your decision.(20 points)
Turning it in
  1. Include your name, section (PSC1121-BW62) and date at the top left of the document, then start your sentences and paragraphs below that.
  2. Do not cut and paste anything from this assignment page onto your document. I will take points off if you include anything from this document.
  3. Do not plagiarise. You will be failed for this assignment and removed from class with an "F" for your semester grade. I have failed students for plagiarism in recent semesters. To make sure you are not plagiarising, double-check the Plagiarism FAQ at
    There is no need to use any other source material than the Reichardt article and the Plaut et al. article, so no footnoting is necessary. Just include a phrase such as, "As Plaut et al. mentioned, ...." and that will be sufficient.

  4. The best way to save the document is as a text file from NotePad or from MS Word (use "Save As..." from the File menu and select "Text Only" format). Second best way: save as HTML. Third best, save as MS Word doc, but this makes the most work for those of us who grade, so....
  5. Include the letters "cs1" and your last name in the document name, but NO SPACES. E.g.,
    • napoleon_dynamite_cs1.txt
    • voltron_case1.html
    • special_delivery_jones_cs1.doc
    • but NOT case study 1.doc, which is nearly useless. I will take points off if you do this.

  6. When your document is ready submit your document at
    →Due Saturday, July 7, 2001, 11:55 P.M.←
VocabularySome vocabulary you might need:
  1. MOLA: Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The altimeter gives accurate surface topography of Mars.
  2. Albedo: a measure of a material's capacity for reflection, with values between 0 and 1. Perfect reflectivity has albedo 1.00. Snow has an albedo of 0.6; soil has albedo 0.05 to 0.30.
  3. "basal interface with the substrate": the boundary between the base of the ice-rich SPLD materials and the underlying bedrock (paraphrase of Plaut et al.)