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Mercury's rotational parameters from MESSENGER image and laser altimeter data: A feasibility study

Stark, Alexander and Oberst, Jürgen and Preusker, Frank and Gwinner, Klaus and Peale, Stanton J. and Margot, Jean-Luc and Phillips, Roger J. and Zuber, Maria T. and Solomon, Sean C. (2015) Mercury's rotational parameters from MESSENGER image and laser altimeter data: A feasibility study. Planetary and Space Science, 117, pp. 64-72. Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2015.05.006 ISSN 0032-0633

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2015.05.006


A novel method has been developed to determine the rotational parameters of Mercury from data acquired by the MESSENGER spacecraft. We exploit the complementarity of laser altimeter tracks taken at different rotational phases and rigid stereo terrain models to determine a Mercury rotational model. In particular, we solve for the orientation of the spin axis, the rotation rate, and the amplitude of the forced libration. In this paper, we verify the proposed method and carry out an extensive simulation of MESSENGER data acquisition with assumed rotational parameters. To assess the uncertainty in the rotational parameters we use mission-typical assumptions for spacecraft attitude and position knowledge as well as for small-scale terrain morphology. We find that the orientation of the spin axis and the libration amplitude can be recovered with an accuracy of a few arc seconds from three years of MESSENGER orbital observations. The rotation rate can be determined to within 5 arc seconds per year. The method developed here serves as a framework for the ongoing analysis of data from the MESSENGER spacecraft. The rotational parameters of Mercury hold important constraints on the internal structure and evolution of the planet.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/100865/
Document Type:Article
Title:Mercury's rotational parameters from MESSENGER image and laser altimeter data: A feasibility study
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Stark, Alexanderalexander.stark (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Oberst, Jürgenjuergen.oberst (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Preusker, Frankfrank.preusker (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Gwinner, Klausklaus.gwinner (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Peale, Stanton J.Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USAUNSPECIFIED
Margot, Jean-LucDepartment of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USAUNSPECIFIED
Phillips, Roger J.Planetary Science Directorate, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO 80302, USAUNSPECIFIED
Zuber, Maria T.Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USAUNSPECIFIED
Solomon, Sean C.Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USAUNSPECIFIED
Date:22 May 2015
Journal or Publication Title:Planetary and Space Science
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.1016/j.pss.2015.05.006
Page Range:pp. 64-72
Keywords:Mercury Rotation MESSENGER Laser altimetry Stereo photogrammetry Co-registration
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 BepiColombo (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Geodesy
Deposited By: Stark, Alexander
Deposited On:07 Jan 2016 08:09
Last Modified:31 Jul 2019 19:58

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