Mars Research Helps Find Buried Water on Earth


Deserts are 20 percent of the surface of the Earth. We’ve been trying to search for water in the North African Sahara for decades and decades and techniques after techniques and the success has been very limited. We are trying to solve a problem that we don’t understand, which is where is the water, what depth is that water and how it’s changing over this huge desert surface. The main idea behind our project was to use the same technology we’ve used to map ice on the Martian sub-surface. Mars is a desert environment. We thought that why don’t we use this on the Earth to find the water on the sub-surface. To our big surprise, we are able to find these aquifers. We are able to map the depth of the water table. I mean, the depth which water changes in the sub-surface. We are able to see a recharge location; we are able to see a discharge location. We are able to prove that yes, we can us that radar technology we used on Mars to map water on Earth on a large scale.

This is the only technique that can map sub-surface water on large scale that can allow us to see what lies beneath these sand sheets and sand dunes in terms of water resources, but also in terms of geological information that helps us understand why these deserts have transferred to deserts. As we know, before, they were wet environments..