Photometry of Mercury from SOHO/LASCO and Earth. The Phase Function from 2 to 170 deg.
Abstract
CCD observations of Mercury were obtained with the large angle spectrometric coronograph (LASCO) on the solar and heliospheric observatory spacecraft, near superior and inferior solar conjunctions. Whole disk photometry was extracted from the orange and blue filter images and transformed to V magnitudes on the UBV system. The LASCO data were combined with groundbased, Vfilter photometry acquired at larger elongation angles. The resulting photometric phase function covers the greatest span of angles to date and is the first widerange function to be obtained since the era of visual observation. We analyzed the data using a polynomial fit and a Hapke function fit, and derived the following photometric results. Mercury's fully lit brightness, adjusted to a distance of 1.0 AU from the Sun and observer, was found to be V=0.694(±0.030), which is more luminous than previously measured. The corresponding geometric albedo is 0.142(±0.005). The phase integral is 0.478(±0.005) and resulting spherical albedo is 0.068(±0.003). The upper limit of a possible rotational brightness variation is about 0.05 magnitude. Mercury's brightness surges by more than 40% between phase angles 10 and 2°, while the illuminated fraction of the disk increases by less than 1%. A set of coefficients for Hapke's function that fit most of the phase curve includes h=0.065±0.002 indicating that Mercury and the Moon have similar regolith compaction states and particle size distributions, and θbar=16°±1° implying a macroscopically smoother surface than the Moon. However, we found other solutions that fit the observations nearly as well with significantly smaller and larger values of h, and with values of θbar around 25°. The wide range for θbar is due to the inability of the model to fit the photometry obtained at large phase angles.
 Publication:

Icarus
 Pub Date:
 February 2002
 DOI:
 10.1006/icar.2001.6723
 Bibcode:
 2002Icar..155..253M