Regional variations of Mercury's crustal density and porosity from MESSENGER gravity data


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A new solution of Mercury's gravity field to degree and order 160, named HgM009, is retrieved through a reprocessing of MESSENGER radio science measurements. By combining our latest gravity field with topography data, localized spectral admittance analyses are carried out to investigate Mercury's crustal and lithospheric properties across the northern hemisphere. The measured spectra are compared with admittances predicted by lithospheric flexure models. The localized gravity/topography admittance analyses yield key information on the lateral variations of the bulk density of the upper crust. Elastic and crustal thicknesses are also adjusted in our study, but the local admittance spectra allow us to constrain these parameters only over a few regions. The average bulk density across the observed areas in the northern hemisphere is 2540 ±60 kg m−3. The crustal porosity is then constrained by using an estimate of the pore-free grain density of surface materials with our measured bulk density. Our estimate of the mean porosity is 14.7 ±1.6 %, which is comparable to, but slightly higher than, the average value measured on the Moon. Larger crustal porosities are observed over heavily cratered regions, suggesting that impact bombardment is the main cause of the crustal porosity.
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Key words
Mercury's crust,Gravity and topography admittance,Surface porosity,MESSENGER
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