Planetary radar observations have a laudable history of “firsts” including the determination of the astronomical unit at the precision sufficient for interplanetary navigation, the distribution of water at the south pole of the Moon, indications of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions at the poles of Mercury, polar ice and anomalous surface features on Mars, indications that the asteroid (16) Psyche is an exposed metallic core of a planetoid, establishing the icy nature of the Jovian satellites, and the initial characterizations of Titan's surface. In many cases, these discoveries by planetary radar systems have motivated missions or radar instruments on missions. Further, the discovery of interstellar objects may present new radar targets for bridging Planetary Science and Astrophysics. However, the world’s planetary radar infrastructure consists of two dominant assets, the Arecibo Planetary Radar and the Goldstone Solar System Radar. Both depend upon single antennas equipped with vacuum tube amplifiers, and significant issues have been experienced with their operational reliability and sustainability.
The goal of this workshop is to explore approaches to the next-generation planetary radar capable of providing compelling science and complementing and motivating NASA science missions as well as potentially providing NASA mission assurance by being able to track spacecraft. In light of the discoveries in the past few decades, some motivated by planetary radar observations, the workshop will explore science opportunities for new radar measurements throughout the solar system. Significant technological advances also have occurred in solid-state technologies, phased arrays, and analysis techniques. The workshop will explore how one or more of these technologies could form the foundation for a next-generation planetary radar system.
Finally, this workshop is occurring during the interval when science white papers for the Planetary Science Decadal Survey will be being developed. A component of the workshop will involve ensuring that compelling white papers will be developed and delivered to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey.