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MESSENGER and the Chemistry of Mercury's Surface
Boynton, William V.; Sprague, Ann L.; Solomon, Sean C.; Starr, Richard D.; Evans, Larry G.; Feldman, William C.; Trombka, Jacob I.; Rhodes, Edgar A.
AA(Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA), AB(Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA), AC(Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, USA), AD(The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, USA), AE(Computer Sciences Corporation, Lanham-Seabrook, MD, USA), AF(Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, AZ, USA), AG(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA), AH(The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD, USA)
Space Science Reviews, Volume 131, Issue 1-4, pp. 85-104 (SSRv Homepage)
Publication Date:
Mercury, MESSENGER, Mercury's surface chemistry, Gamma-ray spectrometry, X-ray spectrometry, Space missions, Planetary surfaces
Abstract Copyright:
(c) 2007: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Bibliographic Code:


The instrument suite on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft is well suited to address several of Mercury's outstanding geochemical problems. A combination of data from the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) and X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) instruments will yield the surface abundances of both volatile (K) and refractory (Al, Ca, and Th) elements, which will test the three competing hypotheses for the origin of Mercury's high bulk metal fraction: aerodynamic drag in the early solar nebula, preferential vaporization of silicates, or giant impact. These same elements, with the addition of Mg, Si, and Fe, will put significant constraints on geochemical processes that have formed the crust and produced any later volcanism. The Neutron Spectrometer sensor on the GRNS instrument will yield estimates of the amount of H in surface materials and may ascertain if the permanently shadowed polar craters have a significant excess of H due to water ice. A comparison of the FeO content of olivine and pyroxene determined by the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) instrument with the total Fe determined through both GRNS and XRS will permit an estimate of the amount of Fe present in other forms, including metal and sulfides.
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