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Results from first MESSENGER flyby of Mercury

Prof. Steven A. Hauck, II co-authored recent article in Science on data from the MESSENGER laser altimeter.

On January 14, 2008 NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft (short for Mercury Surface Space ENvironment GEochemistry and Ranging) performed the first flyby of Mercury since 1975. During the flyby data were taken from portions of previously unseen portions of the planet. A recent issue of Science magazine contains a special section with 11 papers that detail the first results from observations made during the flyby. Prof. Hauck, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist, co-authored an article on observations made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) instrument. The laser altimeter collects topographic data of the surface of the planet. The new results indicate a long-wavelength slope along the equator near the closest approach of the spacecraft that may be indicative of lateral variations in the internal structure of the planet. Among other new results, observations of impact craters along the altimetry profile also suggest a complex modification history of the surface in this region. MESSENGER will make its second of three flybys on October 6, 2008.
For more information, see the MESSENGER mission website, the University news article, and a recent article in the Plain Dealer.
Laser Altimeter Observations from MESSENGER’s First Mercury Flyby, by Maria T. Zuber, David E. Smith, Sean C. Solomon, Roger J. Phillips, Stanton J. Peale, James W. Head, III, Steven A. Hauck, II, Ralph L. McNutt, Jr., Jürgen Oberst, Gregory A. Neumann, Frank G. Lemoine, Xiaoli Sun, Olivier Barnouin-Jha, and John K. Harmon (4 July 2008)
Science 321 (5885), 77. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1159086]

Page last modified: July 9, 2008