Spectral behavior of sulfides in simulated daytime surface conditions of Mercury: Supporting past (MESSENGER) and future missions (BepiColombo)

1I.Varatharajan,1A.Maturilli,1J.Helbert,2G.Alemanno,3H.Hiesinger
Earth and Planetary Science Letters (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2019.05.020]
1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- Und Raumfahrt
2Universita del Salento
3Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Copyright Elsevier

To detect the mineral diversity of a planet’s surface, it is essential to study the spectral variations over a broad wavelength range at relevant simulated laboratory conditions. The MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging) mission to Mercury discovered that irrespective of its formation closest to the Sun, Mercury is richer in volatiles than previously expected. This is especially true for sulfur (S), with an average abundance of 4 wt%. It has been proposed that sulfur in the interior of Mercury can be brought to the surface through volcanic activity in the form of sulfides as slag deposits in Mercury hollows and pyroclastic deposits. However, comprehensive spectral library of sulfide minerals measured under vacuum conditions in a wide spectral range (0.2–100 μm) was lacking. This affects the detectability and understanding of the distribution, abundance, and type of sulfides on Mercury using remote-sensing spectral observations. In the case of Mercury, the effect of thermal weathering affecting the spectral behavior of these sulfides must be studied carefully for their effective detection. In this study, we present a spectral library of synthetic sulfides including MgS, FeS, CaS, CrS, TiS, NaS, and MnS. For each sample, we performed emissivity measurements in the thermal infrared range (TIR: ∼7–14 μm) for sample temperatures from 100 °C–500 °C, covering the daytime temperature cycle on Mercury’s surface. In addition, for each sample we measured the spectral reflectance of fresh and thermally processed sulfides over a wide spectral range (0.2–100 μm) and at four different phase angles, 26°, 40°, 60°, 80°. This spectral library facilitates the detection of sulfides by past and future missions to Mercury by any optical spectrometer of any spectral range. Specifically, the emissivity measurements in this study will support the Mercury Radiometer and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (MERTIS) instrument on the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission, which will study the surface mineralogy over a wavelength range of 7–14 μm at a spatial resolution of 500 m/pixel. The measured reflectance of these sulfides in 0.2–100 μm at various phase angles will support the interpretation of measurements from past (MDIS, MASCS on MESSENGER) and future missions (SIMBIO-SYS on BepiColombo).

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