Planets and Moons  ID: 4258

Mercury Mascons for the Cover of JGR Planets

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.

Visualization Credits

Ernie Wright (USRA): Lead Data Visualizer
Erwan M. Mazarico (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Science Paper:
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.

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MESSENGER: Mercury, Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging

Data Used:
Mosaic - JHUAPL - 2011 - 2014
Model - 2011 - 2014
MESSENGER/HgM005 Gravity Map also referred to as: HgM005
Model - NASA/APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington - 2011 - 2014
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

SVS >> Gravity
SVS >> Mercury
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Land Surface >> Topography
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version