Special Reports

Spectroscopic Observations of Mercury's Surface Reflectance During MESSENGER's First Mercury Flyby

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Science  04 Jul 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5885, pp. 62-65
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159933

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During MESSENGER's first flyby of Mercury, the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer made simultaneous mid-ultraviolet to near-infrared (wavelengths of 200 to 1300 nanometers) reflectance observations of the surface. An ultraviolet absorption (<280 nanometers) suggests that the ferrous oxide (Fe2+) content of silicates in average surface material is low (less than 2 to 3 weight percent). This result is supported by the lack of a detectable 1-micrometer Fe2+ absorption band in high-spatial-resolution spectra of mature surface materials as well as immature crater ejecta, which suggests that the ferrous iron content may be low both on the surface and at depth. Differences in absorption features and slope among the spectra are evidence for variations in composition and regolith maturation of Mercury's surface.

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