Reflectance and color variations on mercury: Regolith processes and compositional heterogeneity

Mark Robinson, Scott L. Murchie, David T. Blewett, Deborah L. Domingue, S. Edward Hawkins, James W. Head, Gregory M. Holsclaw, William E. McClintock, Timothy J. McCoy, Ralph L. McNutt, Louise M. Prockter, Sean C. Solomon, Thomas R. Watters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Multispectral images of Mercury obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft reveal that its surface has an overall relatively low reflectance with three large-scale units identified on the basis of reflectance and slope (0.4 to 1.0 micrometer). A higher-reflectance, relatively red material occurs as a distinct class of smooth plains that were likely emplaced volcanically; a lower-reflectance material with a lesser spectral slope may represent a distinct crustal component enriched in opaque minerals, possibly more common at depth. A spectrally intermediate terrain probably forms most of the upper crust. Three other spectrally distinct but spatially restricted units include fresh crater ejecta less affected by space weathering than other surface materials; high-reflectance deposits seen in some crater floors; and moderately high-reflectance, relatively reddish material associated with rimless depressions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-69
Number of pages4
Issue number5885
StatePublished - Jul 4 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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