How much material do the radar-bright craters at the Mercurian poles contain?

Faith Vilas, Paul S. Cobian, Nadine G. Barlow, Susan M. Lederer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The depth-to-diameter (d/D) ratios were determined for 12 craters located near the Mercurian north pole that were identified by Harmon et al. (2001, Icarus 149) as having strong depolarized radar echos. We find that the mean d/D value of these radar-bright craters is 23 the mean d/D value of the general population of non-radar-bright craters in the surrounding north polar region. Previous studies, however, show no difference between d/D values of Mercurian polar and equatorial crater populations, suggesting that no terrain softening which could modify crater structure exists at the Mercurian poles (Barlow et al., 1999, 194, Icarus 141). Thus, the change in d/D is governed by a change in crater depth, probably due to deposition of material inside the crater. The volume of infilling material, including volatiles, in the radar-bright craters is significantly greater than predicted by proposed mechanisms for the emplacement of either water ice or sulfur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1496-1500
Number of pages5
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number14-15
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Cratering
  • Ices
  • Mercury
  • Radar
  • Surfaces, planets
  • Terrestrial planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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