WISDOM (radar)


OperatorEuropean Space Agency
Instrument typeground-penetrating radar
FunctionGeophysical imaging
Mission duration≥ 7 months[1]
WebsiteExoMars Rover Instrument Suite
Host spacecraft
SpacecraftRosalind Franklin rover
Launch dateAugust–October 2022[2]
Launch siteBaikonur

WISDOM (Water Ice and Subsurface Deposit Observation on Mars) is a ground-penetrating radar that is part of the science payload on board the European Space Agency's Rosalind Franklin rover,[3] tasked to search for biosignatures and biomarkers on Mars. The rover is planned to be launched in August–October 2022 and land on Mars in spring 2023.[2]


WISDOM[4] Parameter/units
Center frequency 1.75  GHz
Frequency bandwidth 2.5  GHz
Wavelength in vacuum 0.1–0.6  m
Frequency step 2.5  MHz
Step duration 200  μs
Receiver frequency bandwidth −7 to 25  dB
Antenna gain 1 to 8 dB
IFT gain 27 db

The search for evidence of past or present life on Mars is the principal objective of the ExoMars programme. If such evidence exists, it will most likely be in the subsurface, where organic molecules are shielded from the destructive effects of ionizing radiation and atmospheric oxidants. For this reason, the Rosalind Franklin rover mission has been optimized to investigate the subsurface and sample those locations where conditions for the preservation of evidence of past life are most likely to be found.

WISDOM is a step frequency radar that operates in the frequency range from 0.5 to 3 GHz.[4][5] It will provide high-resolution 3D imaging down to a depth of 3 metres.[6] WISDOM will use UHF radar pulses to provide the three-dimensional geological context of the shallow subsurface underneath the ExoMars rover.[4][6] It will be used to identify optimal drilling sites and to ensure the safety of the core drill, as well as investigate the local distribution and state of subsurface water ice and brine.[4]

It can transmit and receive signals using two, small Vivaldi-antennas mounted on the aft section of the rover. Electromagnetic waves penetrating into the ground are reflected at places where there is a sudden transition in the electrical parameters of the soil. By studying these reflections it is possible to construct a stratigraphic map of the subsurface and identify underground targets down to 2 to 3 m (7 to 10 ft) in depth, comparable to the 2 m reach of the rover's drill. These data, combined with those produced by the PanCam and by the analyses carried out on previously collected samples, will be used to support drilling activities.[7]

Field tests with a remote-controlled rover, show that WISDOM can be operated continuously while the rover is in motion at a reduced speed of approximately 20  m/h.[4] All WISDOM data will be relayed to Earth via ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and processing will be performed on Earth.

The WISDOM team consists of scientists from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Austria, United Kingdom and the United States. The Principal Investigator is Valérie Ciarletti, from LATMOS, France.[6] The Co-Principal Investigator is Svein-Erik Hamran from Norway.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Vago, Jorge L.; et al. (July 2017). "Habitability on Early Mars and the Search for Biosignatures with the ExoMars Rover". Astrobiology. 17 (6–7): 471–510. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..471V. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1533. PMC 5685153. PMID 31067287.
  2. ^ a b "N° 6–2020: ExoMars to take off for the Red Planet in 2022" (Press release). ESA. 12 March 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  3. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (July 24, 2018). "ExoMars: Searching for Life on Mars". Space.com. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Ciarletti, Valérie; et al. (July 2017). "The WISDOM Radar: Unveiling the Subsurface Beneath the ExoMars Rover and Identifying the Best Locations for Drilling". Astrobiology. 17 (6–7): 565–584. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..565C. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1532. PMC 5568567.
  5. ^ Corbel, C.; Hamram, S.; Ney, R.; Plettemeier, D.; Dolon, F.; Jeangeot, A.; Ciarletti, V.; Berthelier, J. (December 2006). "WISDOM: An UHF GPR on the Exomars Mission". Proceedings of the American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2006. 51: 1218. Bibcode:2006AGUFM.P51D1218C. P51D–1218.
  6. ^ a b c WISDOM (Water Ice and Subsurface Deposit Observation on Mars). European Space Agency. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  7. ^ "The ExoMars Rover Instrument Suite: WISDOM - Water Ice and Subsurface Deposit Observation on Mars". European Space Agency. 3 April 2013.
  8. ^ "ESA - Robotic Exploration of Mars - The ExoMars Rover Instrument Suite". exploration.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-06-05.