Mercury's albedo from Mariner 10: Implications for the presence of ferrous iron

B. W. Denevi, Mark Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Mariner 10 clear filter (490 nm) images of Mercury were recalibrated and photometrically normalized to produce a mosaic of nearly an entire hemisphere of the planet. Albedo contrasts are slightly larger than seen in the lunar highlands (excluding maria). Variegations indicative of compositional differences include diffuse low albedo units often overlain by smooth plains, the high albedo smooth plains of Borealis Planitia, and high-albedo enigmatic crater floor deposits. A higher level of contrast between immature crater ejecta and average mature material on Mercury compared to the Moon is consistent with a more intense space weathering environment on Mercury that results in a more mature regolith. Immature lunar highlands materials are ∼1.5 times higher in reflectance than analogous immature mercurian materials. Immature materials of the same composition would have the same reflectance on both bodies, thus this observation requires that Mercury's crust contains a significant darkening agent, either opaque minerals or ferrous iron bearing silicates, in abundances significantly higher than those of the lunar highlands. If the darkening agent is opaque minerals (e.g. ilmenite or ulvospinel) Mercury's crust may contain significant ferrous iron and yet not exhibit a 1-μm absorption band.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


  • Mercury
  • Terrestrial planets
  • surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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