Radar Ionogram with Oblique Ionospheric Echo
This plot, called an ionogram, shows data from sounding Mars' ionosphere with the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS). The horizontal axis is the frequency of the pulse. The left vertical axis is the time delay after transmitting the pulse, with time increasing downward. The right vertical axis is a conversion of time delay to distance, showing the apparent range to the reflection point. The intensity of the received signal at any given frequency and apparent range is indicated by the color, with dark blue being the least intense and green being the most intense.
The green echo at an apparent range of about 800 kilometers (497 miles) from 2.5 to 5.5 megahertz is the reflected signal from the surface of Mars. The curved bright green feature with an apparent range varying from about 600 to 750 kilometers (373 to 466 miles) at frequencies from about 0.7 to 1.8 megahertz is the echo from the top side of the ionosphere. A second echo of the ionosphere, at an apparent range of about 100 kilometers (62 miles) is labeled "Oblique ionospheric echo." Such echoes are believed to come from distorted structures in the ionosphere caused by the magnetic fields in the crust of Mars.
MARSIS is an instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. NASA and the Italian Space Agency jointly funded the instrument.
Credit: ASI/NASA/ESA/Univ. of Rome/Univ. of Iowa/JPL