Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

Characterization of the morphometry of impact craters hosting polar deposits in Mercury's north polar region

Authors

  • Matthieu J. Talpe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Corresponding author: M. J. Talpe, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. (mtalpe@mit.edu)

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  • Maria T. Zuber,

    1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Di Yang,

    1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Gregory A. Neumann,

    1. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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  • Sean C. Solomon,

    1. Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D. C., USA
    2. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA
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  • Erwan Mazarico,

    1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    2. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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  • Faith Vilas

    1. Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Abstract

[1] Earth-based radar images of Mercury show radar-bright material inside impact craters near the planet's poles. A previous study indicated that the polar-deposit-hosting craters (PDCs) at Mercury's north pole are shallower than craters that lack such deposits. We use data acquired by the Mercury Laser Altimeter on the MESSENGER spacecraft during 11 months of orbital observations to revisit the depths of craters at high northern latitudes on Mercury. We measured the depth and diameter of 537 craters located poleward of 45°N, evaluated the slopes of the northern and southern walls of 30 PDCs, and assessed the floor roughness of 94 craters, including nine PDCs. We find that the PDCs appear to have a fresher crater morphology than the non-PDCs and that the radar-bright material has no detectable influence on crater depths, wall slopes, or floor roughness. The statistical similarity of crater depth-diameter relations for the PDC and non-PDC populations places an upper limit on the thickness of the radar-bright material (<170 m for a crater 11 km in diameter) that can be refined by future detailed analysis. Results of the current study are consistent with the view that the radar-bright material constitutes a relatively thin layer emplaced preferentially in comparatively young craters.

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