Mercury Mascons for the Cover of JGR Planets
A gravity map of Mercury shows mass concentrations (red) centered on the Caloris basin (center) and the Sobkou region (right limb).
This image appeared on the cover of the December, 2014 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. In a lengthy article in the same issue, planetary scientist Erwan Mazarico and his co-authors describe their new and improved gravity map of Mercury, named HgM005. The map is based on a careful analysis of the orbit of the MESSENGER spacecraft. It shows variations in the strength of Mercury's gravity caused by mass concentrations, or mascons — dense lumps of material beneath the surface of the planet. The analysis also led to more accurate values for Mercury's tilt and the length of its day and allowed researchers to find stable near-circular orbits that could be used by future Mercury probes.
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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
Papers used in this visualization
Mazarico, E., et al. (2015). The gravity field, orientation, and ephemeris of Mercury from MESSENGER observations after three years in orbit. J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 119, 2417–2436, doi:10.1002/2014JE004675.
Datasets used in this visualization
MESSENGER Global DTMID: 860Model Collected with MDIS 2011 - 2014
MESSENGER HgM005 (HgM005 Gravity Map)ID: 861Model NASA/APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington 2011 - 2014
MESSENGER Global MosaicID: 859Mosaic Collected with MDIS JHUAPL 2011 - 2014
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