Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets


MESSENGER Views Mercury From Orbit

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      Solar wind alpha particles and heavy ions in the inner heliosphere observed with MESSENGER

      Daniel J. Gershman, Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Lennard A. Fisk, Jason A. Gilbert, Jim M. Raines, Brian J. Anderson, Charles W. Smith, Haje Korth and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 15 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA017829

      Key Points

      • FIPS has made the first solar wind heavy ion measurements inside R = 0.5 AU
      • Solar wind heavy ions appear to be heated close to the Sun
  2. Magnetospheric Physics

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      Characteristics of the plasma distribution in Mercury's equatorial magnetosphere derived from MESSENGER Magnetometer observations

      Haje Korth, Brian J. Anderson, Catherine L. Johnson, Reka M. Winslow, James A. Slavin, Michael E. Purucker, Sean C. Solomon and Ralph L. McNutt Jr.

      Article first published online: 22 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA018052

      Key Points

      • Plasma population in a toroidal section on the nightside from dusk to dawn
      • The average pressure is 1.45 nPa and exhibits a weak dusk-to-dawn gradient
      • Plasma pressure can vary substantially between successive orbits
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      MESSENGER observations of a flux-transfer-event shower at Mercury

      James A. Slavin, Suzanne M. Imber, Scott A. Boardsen, Gina A. DiBraccio, Torbjorn Sundberg, Menelaos Sarantos, Teresa Nieves-Chinchilla, Adam Szabo, Brian J. Anderson, Haje Korth, Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Jim M. Raines, Catherine L. Johnson, Reka M. Winslow, Rosemary M. Killen, Ralph L. McNutt Jr. and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 30 OCT 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA017926

      Key Points

      • FTE showers at Mercury form new flux ropes every ~ 8-10 s
      • Shower FTES have durations of ~2-3 s and elliptical cross sections
      • FTEs forming in Mercury's cusp inject solar wind plasma into the tail
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      Survey of coherent ∼1 Hz waves in Mercury's inner magnetosphere from MESSENGER observations

      Scott A. Boardsen, James A. Slavin, Brian J. Anderson, Haje Korth, David Schriver and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 22 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA017822

      Key Points

      • Survey of coherent 1 Hz waves in Mercury's magnetosphere
      • The role these waves play at Mercury is not clear
      • This article places constraints on what these waves are
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      Spatial distribution and spectral characteristics of energetic electrons in Mercury's magnetosphere

      George C. Ho, Stamatios M. Krimigis, Robert E. Gold, Daniel N. Baker, Brian J. Anderson, Haje Korth, James A. Slavin, Ralph L. McNutt Jr., Reka M. Winslow and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 7 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA017983

      Key Points

      • MESSENGER made definitive measurements of low-energy electron bursts at Mercury
      • The largest electron bursts were at high latitudes or local midnight
      • We found events occurred upstream of Mercury's bow shock
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      MESSENGER observations of dipolarization events in Mercury's magnetotail

      Torbjörn Sundberg, James A. Slavin, Scott A. Boardsen, Brian J. Anderson, Haje Korth, George C. Ho, David Schriver, Vadim M. Uritsky, Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Jim M. Raines, Daniel N. Baker, Stamatios M. Krimigis, Ralph L. McNutt Jr. and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA017756

      Key Points

      • Dipolarizations signatures are observed in Mercury's magnetotail
      • The dipolarization regions are determined to be of limited cross-tail scale size
      • The implications for field-aligned currents and particle heating are discussed
  3. Regular Articles

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    3. Magnetospheric Physics
    4. Regular Articles
    1. Magnetospheric Physics

      Mercury's magnetopause and bow shock from MESSENGER Magnetometer observations (pages 2213–2227)

      Reka M. Winslow, Brian J. Anderson, Catherine L. Johnson, James A. Slavin, Haje Korth, Michael E. Purucker, Daniel N. Baker and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 28 MAY 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50237

      Key Points

      • Observe Mercury's magnetopause and bow shock from 3 Mercury years in orbit.
      • Establish the time-averaged shape of the magnetopause and bow shock.
      • Assess solar wind and IMF influence on the magnetopause and bow shock.
    2. Distribution and compositional variations of plasma ions in Mercury's space environment: The first three Mercury years of MESSENGER observations (pages 1604–1619)

      Jim M. Raines, Daniel J. Gershman, Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Menelaos Sarantos, James A. Slavin, Jason A. Gilbert, Haje Korth, Brian J. Anderson, George Gloeckler, Stamatios M. Krimigis, Daniel N. Baker, Ralph L. McNutt Jr. and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 29 APR 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA018073

      Key Points

      • Na+-group ions are enhanced in northern cusp and pre-midnight sector
      • Planetary ion species show distinct dependences on altitude and local time
      • May be first observation of non-adiabatic effects in Mercury's magnetosphere
    3. MESSENGER observations of magnetopause structure and dynamics at Mercury (pages 997–1008)

      Gina A. DiBraccio, James A. Slavin, Scott A. Boardsen, Brian J. Anderson, Haje Korth, Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Jim M. Raines, Daniel N. Baker, Ralph L. McNutt Jr. and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 1 MAR 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50123

      Key Points

      • Mercury's dayside magnetopause is constantly experiencing magnetic reconnection.
      • Magnetopause reconnection rate increases as magnetosheath plasma beta decreases.
      • Mercury's low beta environment enables reconnection for small shear angles.
    4. Mirror mode structures in the asymmetric Hermean magnetosheath: Hybrid simulations (pages 405–417)

      David Herčík, Pavel M. Trávníček, Jay R. Johnson, Eun-Hwa Kim and Petr Hellinger

      Article first published online: 31 JAN 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA018083

      Key Points

      • Dawn-dusk asymmetry of Hermean magnetosheath driven by IMF orientation observed
      • Mirror waves appear in the magnetosheath depending on the dayside magnetosheath
      • Kinetic effects seem to play significant role in the observed features
    5. Solar and Heliospheric Physics

      Upstream ultra-low frequency waves in Mercury's foreshock region: MESSENGER magnetic field observations (pages 2809–2823)

      Guan Le, Peter J. Chi, Xochitl Blanco-Cano, Scott Boardsen, James A. Slavin, Brian J. Anderson and Haje Korth

      Article first published online: 7 JUN 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50342

      Key Points

      • Occurrence characteristics of upstream waves are studied using MESSENGER data.
      • Upstream whistlers are the most common phenomenon in the Mercury's foreshock.
      • The lack of magnetosonic waves is attributed to the small and weak bow shock.
    6. Observations of interstellar helium pickup ions in the inner heliosphere (pages 1389–1402)

      Daniel J. Gershman, George Gloeckler, Jason A. Gilbert, Jim M. Raines, Lennard A. Fisk, Sean C. Solomon, Edward C. Stone and Thomas H. Zurbuchen

      Article first published online: 26 APR 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50227

      Key Points

      • First observations of pickup helium in the inner heliosphere
      • No evidence for strong longitudinal transport of pickup ions
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      Solar wind forcing at Mercury: WSA-ENLIL model results (pages 45–57)

      Daniel N. Baker, Gangkai Poh, Dusan Odstrcil, C. Nick Arge, Mehdi Benna, Catherine L. Johnson, Haje Korth, Daniel J. Gershman, George C. Ho, William E. McClintock, Timothy A. Cassidy, Aimee Merkel, Jim M. Raines, David Schriver, James A. Slavin, Sean C. Solomon, Pavel M. Trávníček, Reka M. Winslow and Thomas H. Zurbuchen

      Article first published online: 31 JAN 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JA018064

      Key Points

      • Correlation of model results with MESSENGER upstream measurements
      • Use of solar wind model results to organize magnetospheric properties of Mercury
      • Driving of Mercury magnetosphere
    8. Relative rates of optical maturation of regolith on Mercury and the Moon (pages 1903–1914)

      Sarah E. Braden and Mark S. Robinson

      Article first published online: 23 SEP 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20143

      Key Points

      • Mercurian regolith matures at a faster rate than lunar regolith
      • Data show 2 times fewer Kuiperian than Copernican craters per unit area
      • Impact flux models disagree with counts of impact craters by a factor of 4
    9. Dark spots on Mercury: A distinctive low-reflectance material and its relation to hollows (pages 1752–1765)

      Zhiyong Xiao, Robert G. Strom, David T. Blewett, Paul K. Byrne, Sean C. Solomon, Scott L. Murchie, Ann L. Sprague, Deborah L. Domingue and Jörn Helbert

      Article first published online: 11 SEP 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20115

      Key Points

      • Widely occurred dark spot material has the lowest reflectance on Mercury
      • Dark spots may form from outgassing events related to crustal volatiles
      • Dark spot material is unstable compared with the associated hollows in the spot
    10. An assemblage of lava flow features on Mercury (pages 1303–1322)

      Paul K. Byrne, Christian Klimczak, David A. Williams, Debra M. Hurwitz, Sean C. Solomon, James W. Head, Frank Preusker and Jürgen Oberst

      Article first published online: 17 JUN 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20052

      Key Points

      • Wide outflow channels occur peripheral to Mercury's northern volcanic plains
      • Such features may represent a stage preceding total volcanic plains emplacement
      • Their volcanic origin has implications for similar landforms on other planets
    11. The curious case of Mercury's internal structure (pages 1204–1220)

      Steven A. Hauck II, Jean-Luc Margot, Sean C. Solomon, Roger J. Phillips, Catherine L. Johnson, Frank G. Lemoine, Erwan Mazarico, Timothy J. McCoy, Sebastiano Padovan, Stanton J. Peale, Mark E. Perry, David E. Smith and Maria T. Zuber

      Article first published online: 5 JUN 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20091

      Key Points

      • New MESSENGER and Earth-based radar data provide Mercury's moments of inertia
      • Mercury's core-mantle boundary is 420 +/- 30 km below the planet's surface
      • The core may be compositionally segregated
    12. Mercury's hollows: Constraints on formation and composition from analysis of geological setting and spectral reflectance (pages 1013–1032)

      David T. Blewett, William M. Vaughan, Zhiyong Xiao, Nancy L. Chabot, Brett W. Denevi, Carolyn M. Ernst, Jörn Helbert, Mario D'Amore, Alessandro Maturilli, James W. Head and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 22 MAY 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004174

      Key Points

      • Hollows are shallow depressions with relatively high reflectance and blue color
      • Hollows are found in units with reflectance lower than the global average
      • Sulfide minerals could contribute to Mercury's spectral characteristics
    13. Thermal evolution of Mercury as constrained by MESSENGER observations (pages 1033–1044)

      Nathalie C. Michel, Steven A. Hauck II, Sean C. Solomon, Roger J. Phillips, James H. Roberts and Maria T. Zuber

      Article first published online: 22 MAY 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20049

      Key Point

      • Mantle convection is possible even with a very thin mantle
    14. The distribution and origin of smooth plains on Mercury (pages 891–907)

      Brett W. Denevi, Carolyn M. Ernst, Heather M. Meyer, Mark S. Robinson, Scott L. Murchie, Jennifer L. Whitten, James W. Head, Thomas R. Watters, Sean C. Solomon, Lillian R. Ostrach, Clark R. Chapman, Paul K. Byrne, Christian Klimczak and Patrick N. Peplowski

      Article first published online: 6 MAY 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20075

      Key Points

      • ~27% of Mercury is covered by smooth plains and >65% are volcanic in origin
      • The circum-Caloris plains may be both Caloris ejecta and volcanic deposits
      • The asymmetry of smooth plains may be due to age rather than formational process
    15. Investigating the origin of candidate lava channels on Mercury with MESSENGER data: Theory and observations (pages 471–486)

      Debra M. Hurwitz, James W. Head, Paul K. Byrne, Zhiyong Xiao, Sean C. Solomon, Maria T. Zuber, David E. Smith and Gregory A. Neumann

      Article first published online: 31 MAR 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004103

      Key Points

      • Candidate feature are interpreted to have formed by lava erosion on Mercury
      • Thermal erosion may have dominated channel erosion into solidified substrate
      • Mechanical erosion may have dominated channel erosion into regolith substrate
    16. The redox state, FeO content, and origin of sulfur-rich magmas on Mercury (pages 138–146)

      Mikhail Yu. Zolotov, Ann L. Sprague, Steven A. Hauck II, Larry R. Nittler, Sean C. Solomon and Shoshana Z. Weider

      Article first published online: 31 JAN 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004274

      Key points

      • S content in Mercury materials is used to evaluate fO2 and fS2 in magmas
      • The estimated fO2 is 4.5 to 7.3 log10 units below the iron-wüstite buffer
      • The derived upper limit for FeO in magmas and rocks is 0.8 wt %
    17. The origin of graben and ridges in Rachmaninoff, Raditladi, and Mozart basins, Mercury (pages 47–58)

      David M. Blair, Andrew M. Freed, Paul K. Byrne, Christian Klimczak, Louise M. Prockter, Carolyn M. Ernst, Sean C. Solomon, H. Jay Melosh and Maria T. Zuber

      Article first published online: 30 JAN 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004198

      Key Points

      • Graben in Rachmaninoff, Raditladi, and Mozart basins formed via cooling of lava
      • Our results support the idea of highly effusive, low-viscosity lavas on Mercury
      • Thermal fractures in volcanic plains depend strongly on cross-sectional geometry
    18. Craters hosting radar-bright deposits in Mercury's north polar region: Areas of persistent shadow determined from MESSENGER images (pages 26–36)

      Nancy L. Chabot, Carolyn M. Ernst, John K. Harmon, Scott L. Murchie, Sean C. Solomon, David T. Blewett and Brett W. Denevi

      Article first published online: 26 JAN 2013 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004172

      Key Points

      • MESSENGER images provide a nearly complete view of Mercury's north polar region
      • Radar-bright deposits at Mercury's north pole map to areas of persistent shadow
      • Radar-bright features in shadowed areas are consistent with water ice on Mercury
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      Magnesium-rich crustal compositions on Mercury: Implications for magmatism from petrologic modeling

      Karen R. Stockstill-Cahill, Timothy J. McCoy, Larry R. Nittler, Shoshana Z. Weider and Steven A. Hauck II

      Article first published online: 22 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004140

      Key Points

      • We conducted petrologic modeling of MESSENGER-derived and analog compositions
      • Mercury's surface is composed mainly of Mg-rich orthopyroxene and plagioclase
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      MESSENGER observations of Mercury's magnetic field structure

      Catherine L. Johnson, Michael E. Purucker, Haje Korth, Brian J. Anderson, Reka M. Winslow, Manar M. H. Al Asad, James A. Slavin, Igor. I. Alexeev, Roger J. Phillips, Maria T. Zuber and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 14 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004217

      Key Points

      • We present a baseline model for Mercury's magnetosphere
      • The model includes magnetopause, magnetotail, and internal dipole fields
      • Residual signatures are dominated magnetospheric processes
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      Characterization of the morphometry of impact craters hosting polar deposits in Mercury's north polar region

      Matthieu J. Talpe, Maria T. Zuber, Di Yang, Gregory A. Neumann, Sean C. Solomon, Erwan Mazarico and Faith Vilas

      Article first published online: 12 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004155

      Key Points

      • Radar-bright deposits do not influence crater morphometry at Mercury's north pole
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      Aluminum abundance on the surface of Mercury: Application of a new background-reduction technique for the analysis of gamma-ray spectroscopy data

      Patrick N. Peplowski, Edgar A. Rhodes, David K. Hamara, David J. Lawrence, Larry G. Evans, Larry R. Nittler and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004181

      Key Points

      • Abundance of Al on the surface of Mercury
      • New technique for background reduction of gamma-ray data
      • Agrees with MESSENGER XRS measurements of Al
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      Low-degree structure in Mercury's planetary magnetic field

      Brian J. Anderson, Catherine L. Johnson, Haje Korth, Reka M. Winslow, Joseph E. Borovsky, Michael E. Purucker, James A. Slavin, Sean C. Solomon, Maria T. Zuber and Ralph L. McNutt Jr.

      Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004159

      Key Points

      • Mercury's magnetic field is an axialy aligned dipole offset 0.2 RM to the north
      • Additional high-degree structure is less than 7% of the offset dipole
      • The result is consistent with a deep dynamo and a nonconvecting outer layer
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      Modeling MESSENGER observations of calcium in Mercury's exosphere

      Matthew H. Burger, Rosemary M. Killen, William E. McClintock, Ronald J. Vervack Jr., Aimee W. Merkel, Ann L. Sprague and Menelaos Sarantos

      Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004158

      Key Points

      • MESSENGER observed Mercury's calcium exosphere during 3 flybys and in orbit
      • The calcium source is confined to Mercury's dawn, equatorial region
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      Major-element abundances on the surface of Mercury: Results from the MESSENGER Gamma-Ray Spectrometer

      Larry G. Evans, Patrick N. Peplowski, Edgar A. Rhodes, David J. Lawrence, Timothy J. McCoy, Larry R. Nittler, Sean C. Solomon, Ann L. Sprague, Karen R. Stockstill-Cahill, Richard D. Starr, Shoshana Z. Weider, William V. Boynton, David K. Hamara and John O. Goldsten

      Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004178

      Key Points

      • Abundances of the major elements on the surface of Mercury
      • MESSENGER mission orbital gamma ray measurements
      • The first abundance measurements of sodium
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      Mercury's moment of inertia from spin and gravity data

      Jean-Luc Margot, Stanton J. Peale, Sean C. Solomon, Steven A. Hauck II, Frank D. Ghigo, Raymond F. Jurgens, Marie Yseboodt, Jon D. Giorgini, Sebastiano Padovan and Donald B. Campbell

      Article first published online: 27 OCT 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004161

      Key Points

      • Mercury's obliquity is (2.04 +/- 0.08) arcminutes
      • Mercury exhibits a longitude libration of amplitude (37.8 +/- 1.4) arcseconds
      • Mercury's moment of inertia is 0.346 +/- 0.014
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      Large impact basins on Mercury: Global distribution, characteristics, and modification history from MESSENGER orbital data

      Caleb I. Fassett, James W. Head, David M. H. Baker, Maria T. Zuber, David E. Smith, Gregory A. Neumann, Sean C. Solomon, Christian Klimczak, Robert G. Strom, Clark R. Chapman, Louise M. Prockter, Roger J. Phillips, Jürgen Oberst and Frank Preusker

      Article first published online: 27 OCT 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004154

      Key Points

      • New mapping of the global distribution of large impact basins on Mercury
      • The density of basins with D >= 500 km is lower than on the Moon
      • Large basins on Mercury are more degraded than counterparts on the Moon
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      On the origin of graben and ridges within and near volcanically buried craters and basins in Mercury's northern plains

      Andrew M. Freed, David M. Blair, Thomas R. Watters, Christian Klimczak, Paul K. Byrne, Sean C. Solomon, Maria T. Zuber and H. J. Melosh

      Article first published online: 17 OCT 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004119

      Key Points

      • Understanding the origin of graben and ridges on Mercury's northern plains
      • Graben are explained by extension due to cooling of thick pooled volcanic unit
      • Ridges are explained by contraction due to cooling of planetary interior
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      Chemical heterogeneity on Mercury's surface revealed by the MESSENGER X-Ray Spectrometer

      Shoshana Z. Weider, Larry R. Nittler, Richard D. Starr, Timothy J. McCoy, Karen R. Stockstill-Cahill, Paul K. Byrne, Brett W. Denevi, James W. Head and Sean C. Solomon

      Article first published online: 3 OCT 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004153

      Key Points

      • Analysis of spatially resolved X-ray spectrometry data from MESSENGER
      • Volcanic smooth plains units differ compositionally from older terrains
      • Mercury's surface consists of high-Mg mafic minerals, plagioclase, and sulfides
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      Variations in the abundances of potassium and thorium on the surface of Mercury: Results from the MESSENGER Gamma-Ray Spectrometer

      Patrick N. Peplowski, David J. Lawrence, Edgar A. Rhodes, Ann L. Sprague, Timothy J. McCoy, Brett W. Denevi, Larry G. Evans, James W. Head, Larry R. Nittler, Sean C. Solomon, Karen R. Stockstill-Cahill and Shoshana Z. Weider

      Article first published online: 3 OCT 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004141

      Key Points

      • First spatially resolved measurements of Si, O, K, and Th on Mercury
      • K abundances vary significantly across the surface
      • Potassium abundances may be driven by the thermal conditions on the surface
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      Deformation associated with ghost craters and basins in volcanic smooth plains on Mercury: Strain analysis and implications for plains evolution

      Christian Klimczak, Thomas R. Watters, Carolyn M. Ernst, Andrew M. Freed, Paul K. Byrne, Sean C. Solomon, David M. Blair and James W. Head

      Article first published online: 11 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004100

      Key Points

      • Several types of ghost craters in volcanic plains on Mercury are reported
      • Deformation associated with ghost craters allows us to interpret how they formed
      • Geometric analysis of ghost craters has implications for plains emplacement
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      MESSENGER detection of electron-induced X-ray fluorescence from Mercury's surface

      Richard D. Starr, David Schriver, Larry R. Nittler, Shoshana Z. Weider, Paul K. Byrne, George C. Ho, Edgar A. Rhodes, Charles E. Schlemm II, Sean C. Solomon and Pavel M. Trávníček

      Article first published online: 16 AUG 2012 | DOI: 10.1029/2012JE004118

      Key Points

      • Electron induced XRF detected from Mercury's surface
      • Exciting electron spectrum known from model
      • Surface elemental abundances inferred from detected XRF

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