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Measurement of the radius of Mercury by radio occultation during the MESSENGER flybys

Perry, Mark E. and Kahan, Daniel S. and Barnouin, Olivier S. and Ernst, Carolyn M. and Solomon, Sean C. and Zuber, Maria T. and Smith, David E. and Phillips, Roger J. and Srinivasan, Dipak K. and Oberst, Jürgen and Asmar, Sami W. (2011) Measurement of the radius of Mercury by radio occultation during the MESSENGER flybys. Planetary and Space Science, 59 (15), pp. 1925-1931. Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2011.07.022.

Full text not available from this repository.

Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032063311002443

Abstract

The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft completed three flybys of Mercury in 2008–2009. During the first and third of those flybys, MESSENGER passed behind the planet from the perspective of Earth, occulting the radio-frequency (RF) transmissions. The occultation start and end times, recovered with 0.1 s accuracy or better by fitting edge-diffraction patterns to the RF power history, are used to estimate Mercury's radius at the tangent point of the RF path. To relate the measured radius to the planet shape, we evaluate local topography using images to identify the high-elevation feature that defines the RF path or using altimeter data to quantify surface roughness. Radius measurements are accurate to 150 m, and uncertainty in the average radius of the surrounding terrain, after adjustments are made from the local high at the tangent point of the RF path, is 350 m. The results are consistent with Mercury's equatorial shape as inferred from observations by the Mercury Laser Altimeter and ground-based radar. The three independent estimates of radius from occultation events collectively yield a mean radius for Mercury of 2439.2±0.5 km.

Document Type:Article
Title:Measurement of the radius of Mercury by radio occultation during the MESSENGER flybys
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Perry, Mark E.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044
Kahan, Daniel S.Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109
Barnouin, Olivier S.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044
Ernst, Carolyn M.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044
Solomon, Sean C. Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC 20015
Zuber, Maria T.Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USA
Smith, David E.Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Phillips, Roger J.Planetary Science Directorate, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
Srinivasan, Dipak K.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044, USA
Oberst, Jürgenjuergen.oberst@dlr.de
Asmar, Sami W.Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
Date:7 September 2011
Journal or Publication Title:Planetary and Space Science
Refereed publication:Yes
In Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:59
DOI:10.1016/j.pss.2011.07.022
Page Range:pp. 1925-1931
Publisher:Elsevier
Status:Published
Keywords:Mercury, Messenger, radio occultattion, radius, RF
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Science and Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Exploration des Sonnensystems
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Geodesy
Deposited By: Marita Wählisch
Deposited On:10 Jan 2012 12:16
Last Modified:26 Mar 2013 13:36

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