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First MESSENGER orbital observations of Mercury's librations

Stark, Alexander and Oberst, Jürgen and Preusker, Frank and Peale, Stanton J. and Margot, Jean-Luc and Phillips, Roger J. and Neumann, Gregory A. and Smith, David E. and Zuber, Maria T. and Solomon, Sean C. (2015) First MESSENGER orbital observations of Mercury's librations. Geophysical Research Letters, 42 (19), pp. 7881-7889. Wiley. DOI: 10.1002/2015gl065152 ISSN 0094-8276

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015gl065152


We have coregistered laser altimeter profiles from 3 years of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) orbital observations with stereo digital terrain models to infer the rotation parameters for the planet Mercury. In particular, we provide the first observations of Mercury's librations from orbit. We have also confirmed available estimates for the orientation of the spin axis and the mean rotation rate of the planet. We find a large libration amplitude of 38.9 ± 1.3 arcsec and an obliquity of the spin axis of 2.029 ± 0.085 arcmin, results confirming that Mercury possesses a liquid outer core. The mean rotation rate is observed to be (6.13851804 ± 9.4x10E-7)degrees/d (a spin period of 58.6460768 days ± 0.78 s), significantly higher than the expected resonant rotation rate. As a possible explanation we suggest that Mercury is undergoing long-period librational motion, related to planetary perturbations of its orbit.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/100866/
Document Type:Article
Title:First MESSENGER orbital observations of Mercury's librations
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
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
Neumann, Gregory A.NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USAUNSPECIFIED
Smith, David E.Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, 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:9 September 2015
Journal or Publication Title:Geophysical Research Letters
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.1002/2015gl065152
Page Range:pp. 7881-7889
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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