Report

Topography of the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury from MESSENGER Laser Altimetry

Science  21 Mar 2012:
pp.
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218805

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Abstract

Laser altimetry by the MESSENGER spacecraft has yielded a topographic model of the northern hemisphere of Mercury. The dynamic range of elevations is considerably smaller than those of Mars or the Moon. The most prominent feature is an extensive lowland at high northern latitudes that hosts the volcanic northern plains. Within this lowland is a broad topographic rise that experienced uplift after plains emplacement. The interior of the 1500-km-diameter Caloris impact basin has been modified so that part of the basin floor now stands higher than the rim. The elevated portion of the floor of Caloris appears to be part of a quasi-linear rise that extends for approximately half the planetary circumference at mid-latitudes. Collectively, these features imply that long-wavelength changes to Mercury’s topography occurred after the earliest phases of the planet’s geological history.

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