Mercurys global shape and topography from MESSENGER limb images

Stephan Elgner, Alexander Stark, Jürgen Oberst, Mark E. Perry, Maria T. Zuber, Mark Robinson, Sean C. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We derive models for the global shape and topography of Mercury from limb images obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft during flybys and from orbit. Crossover heights of 225 individual limb profiles were adjusted by least-squares techniques to establish a rigid global topographic network. Mercury is confirmed to possess an equatorial ellipticity and a polar oblateness. Several large impact basins and craters can be identified in the topographic model, including one basin that was earlier proposed but unconfirmed. Comparisons with absolute height data from laser altimetry indicate that the limb model appears to overestimate planetary radius by ~900 m on average. Limb profiles and local digital terrain models derived from stereo-photogrammetry show good agreement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
StatePublished - Nov 15 2014


  • Global shape
  • Mercury
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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