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Laser Altimeter Based Science Studies


We have been using laser altimetry data from other missions to gain some experience with manipulation of the data. We have been looking specifically at surface roughness comparisons between the Moon (using LOLA data), Mars (using MOLA data), and Mercury (using MLA) data.


Surface comparisons on different scales

The analyse of MLA (Messenger Laser Altimeter) onboard MESSENGER spacecraft, around Mercury since March 2011, will be useful for testing the performance of BELA instrument. Indeed during the time of flight verification, the waveform of the return pulse will be implemented using the slopes map from MLA and the return pulse energy which will be send to BELA receiver will be calculating using the reflectance map.

Altitude map of Mercury Northern Hemisphere from 45°N to 90°N (data from the MLA instrument onboard the NASA Messenger spacecraft).
Relevant Publications: 

Pommerol, A., S. Chakraborty, and N. Thomas, (2012), Comparative study of the slope distribution on the surfaces of the Moon, Mars and Mercury, Planetary and Space Science, 73,  287-293, doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2012.08.020.

Space Research & Planetary Sciences Division Web Site