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Subsurface emissions from Mercury - VLA radio observations at 2 and 6 centimeters
Ledlow, Michael J.; Zeilik, Michael; Burns, Jack O.; Gisler, Galen R.; Zhao, Jun-Hui; Baker, Daniel N.
AA(New Mexico, University, Albuquerque), AB(New Mexico, University, Albuquerque), AC(New Mexico State University, Las Cruces), AD(Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM), AE(National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Socorro, NM), AF(NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 384, Jan. 10, 1992, p. 640-655. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
Lunar and Planetary Exploration
NASA/STI Keywords:
Mercury (Planet), Planetary Radiation, Radio Astronomy, Radio Emission, Astronomical Maps, Brightness Temperature, Centimeter Waves, Continuous Radiation, Very Large Array (Vla)
Bibliographic Code:


Radio observations of Mercury made with the VLA; once in 1986, and on two dates in February of 1988 are presented. These observations are the first to spatially map both hot regions associated with the theoretical hot poles. These 'hot poles' are separated by 180 deg and are a result of the unusual diurnal heating from Mercury's 3/2 spin-orbit resonance and eccentric orbit. The highest resolution data maps areas of the planet as small as 330 km. Maps of total intensity, brightness temperature, polarized intensity, fractional polarization, depolarization, and spectral index are included. It is found that the subsurface thermal emissions from Mercury are characteristic of blackbody reradiation from the solar insolation over a diurnal cycle. These observations to produce full-disk thermophysical models are used. The one-dimensional, time-dependent heat-diffusion equation for all observed disk elements at each epoch in order to constrain thermophsyical parameters and properties of the subsurface material are solved. Using typical lunar values for several of the parameters, it is possible to reproduce the temperature morphology and most of the observed temperature values. It is found that the best-fit models require a substantial contribution of the heat transport in the subsurface to be radiative in nature. The primary difficulty in the models is in predicting the observed temperature differences as a function of frequency.

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