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Gravity Field and Internal Structure of Mercury from MESSENGERRadio tracking of the MESSENGER spacecraft has provided a model of Mercury's gravity field. In the northern hemisphere, several large gravity anomalies, including candidate mass concentrations (mascons), exceed 100 milli-Galileos (mgal). Mercury's northern hemisphere crust is thicker at low latitudes and thinner in the polar region and shows evidence for thinning beneath some impact basins. The low-degree gravity field, combined with planetary spin parameters, yields the moment of inertia C/M(R(exp 2) = 0.353 +/- 0.017, where M and R are Mercury's mass and radius, and a ratio of the moment of inertia of Mercury's solid outer shell to that of the planet of C(sub m)/C = 0.452 +/- 0.035. A model for Mercury s radial density distribution consistent with these results includes a solid silicate crust and mantle overlying a solid iron-sulfide layer and an iron-rich liquid outer core and perhaps a solid inner core.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Smith, David E. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Zuber, Maria T. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Phillips, Roger J. (Southwest Research Inst. Boulder, CO, United States)
Solomon, Sean C. (Carnegie Institution of Washington Washington, DC, United States)
Hauck, Steven A., II (Case Western Reserve Univ. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Lemoine, Frank G. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Mazarico, Erwan (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Neumann, Gregory A. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Peale, Stanton J. (California Univ. Santa Barbara, CA, United States)
Margot, Jean-Luc (California Univ. Los Angeles, CA, United States)
Johnson, Catherine L. (British Columbia Univ. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
Torrence, Mark H. (Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc. (SGT, Inc.) Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Perry, Mark E. (Johns Hopkins Univ. Laurel, MD, United States)
Rowlands, David D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Goossens, Sander (Maryland Univ. Baltimore County Catonsville, MD, United States)
Head, James W. (Brown Univ. Providence, RI, United States)
Taylor, Anthony H. (KinetX, Inc Tempe, AZ)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
April 13, 2012
Publication Information
Publication: Science
Volume: 336
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
European Geoscience Union(Vienna)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits