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The Gravity Field of Mars: Results from Mars Global Surveyor

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Science  01 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5437, pp. 94-97
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5437.94

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Abstract

Observations of the gravity field of Mars reveal a planet that has responded differently in its northern and southern hemispheres to major impacts and volcanic processes. The rough, elevated southern hemisphere has a relatively featureless gravitational signature indicating a state of near-isostatic compensation, whereas the smooth, low northern plains display a wider range of gravitational anomalies that indicates a thinner but stronger surface layer than in the south. The northern hemisphere shows evidence for buried impact basins, although none large enough to explain the hemispheric elevation difference. The gravitational potential signature of Tharsis is approximately axisymmetric and contains the Tharsis Montes but not the Olympus Mons or Alba Patera volcanoes. The gravity signature of Valles Marineris extends into Chryse and provides an estimate of material removed by early fluvial activity.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed: dsmith{at}tharsis.gsfc.nasa.gov

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