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The low-degree shape of Mercury

Perry, M. E. and Neumann, G. A. and Phillips, R. J. and Barnouin, O. S. and Ernst, C. M. and Kahan, D.S. and Solomon, S.C. and Zuber, M.T. and Smith, D.E. and Hauck, S. A. and Peale, S. J. and Margot, J.-L. and Mazarico, E. and Johnson, C. L. and Gaskell, R. W. and Roberts, J. H. and McNutt, R. L. and Oberst, J. (2015) The low-degree shape of Mercury. Geophysical Research Letters, 42 (17), pp. 6951-6958. Wiley. DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065101 ISSN 0094-8276

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Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.52051/pdf


The shape of Mercury, particularly when combined with its geoid, provides clues to the planet's internal structure, thermal evolution, and rotational history. Elevation measurements of the northern hemisphere acquired by the Mercury Laser Altimeter on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft, combined with 378 occultations of radio signals from the spacecraft in the planet's southern hemisphere, reveal the low-degree shape of Mercury. Mercury's mean radius is 2439.36 \plusmn 0.02 km, and there is a 0.14 km offset between the planet's centers of mass and figure. Mercury is oblate, with a polar radius 1.65 km less than the mean equatorial radius. The difference between the semimajor and semiminor equatorial axes is 1.25 km, with the long axis oriented 15ẹg west of Mercury's dynamically defined principal axis. Mercury's geoid is also oblate and elongated, but it deviates from a sphere by a factor of 10 less than Mercury's shape, implying compensation of elevation variations on a global scale.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/101070/
Document Type:Article
Title:The low-degree shape of Mercury
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Perry, M. E.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044UNSPECIFIED
Neumann, G. A.NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USAUNSPECIFIED
Phillips, R. J.Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO 80302UNSPECIFIED
Barnouin, O. S.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044UNSPECIFIED
Ernst, C. M.Planetary Exploration Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 21044UNSPECIFIED
Kahan, D.S.Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109UNSPECIFIED
Solomon, S.C.Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, USAUNSPECIFIED
Zuber, M.T.Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USAUNSPECIFIED
Smith, D.E.Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02129UNSPECIFIED
Hauck, S. A.Department of Geological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USAUNSPECIFIED
Peale, S. J.University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USAUNSPECIFIED
Margot, J.-L.Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USAUNSPECIFIED
Mazarico, E.NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USAUNSPECIFIED
Johnson, C. L.Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CanadaUNSPECIFIED
Gaskell, R. W.PSI, Tucson, Arizona,UNSPECIFIED
Roberts, J. H.The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, USAUNSPECIFIED
McNutt, R. L.Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723-6099UNSPECIFIED
Oberst, J.Juergen.Oberst (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Date:12 September 2015
Journal or Publication Title:Geophysical Research Letters
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.1002/2015GL065101
Page Range:pp. 6951-6958
Keywords:Mercury, occultation, shape, altimetry
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: Wählisch, Marita
Deposited On:07 Jan 2016 08:14
Last Modified:08 Mar 2018 18:29

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