New Constraints on the Volatile Deposit in Mercury’s North Polar Crater, Prokofiev

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Michael K. Barker, Nancy L. Chabot, Erwan Mazarico, Matthew Siegler, Jose M. Martinez Camacho, Colin Hamill, Stefano Bertone


Planetary Science Journal 3, 188:

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We present new high-resolution topographic, illumination, and thermal models of Mercury's 112 km diameter north polar crater, Prokofiev. The new models confirm previous results that water ice is stable at the surface within the permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) of Prokofiev for geologic timescales. The largest radar-bright region in Prokofiev is confirmed to extend up to several kilometers past the boundary of its PSR, making it unique on Mercury for hosting a significant radar-bright area outside a PSR. The near-infrared normal albedo distribution of Prokofiev's PSR suggests the presence of a darkening agent rather than pure surface ice. Linear mixture models predict at least roughly half of the surface area to be covered with this dark material. Using improved altimetry in this crater, we place an upper limit of 26 m on its ice deposit thickness. The 1 km baseline topographic slope and roughness of the radar-bright deposit are lower than the non-radar-bright floor, although the difference is not statistically significant when compared to the non-radar-bright floor's natural topographic variations. These results place new constraints on the nature of Prokofiev's volatile deposit that will inform future missions, such as BepiColombo.


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READ ME file for Prokofiev datasets

Raw data files for Prokofiev


Prokofiev ISIS cub file with different data layers

Uploaded by nchabot on April 18, 2022, 1:47 p.m.
Last modified May 2, 2023, 1:57 p.m.