Shape of the northern hemisphere of Mars from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA)



Eighteen profiles of ∼N-S-trending topography from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) are used to analyze the shape of Mars' northern hemisphere. MOLA observations show smaller northern hemisphere flattening than previously thought. The hypsometric distribution is narrowly peaked with >20% of the surface lying within 200 m of the mean elevation. Low elevation correlates with low surface roughness, but the elevation and roughness may reflect different mechanisms. Bouguer gravity indicates less variability in crustal thickness and/or lateral density structure than previously expected. The 3.1-km offset between centers of mass and figure along the polar axis results in a pole-to-equator slope at all longitudes. The N-S slope distribution also shows a subtle longitude-dependent variation that may represent the antipodal effect of the formation of Tharsis.