Geological Mapping of the Derain (H-10) Quadrangle of Mercury

Lead Research Organisation: The Open University
Department Name: Physical Sciences

Abstract

The four-year orbital mission of NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft ended in April 2015. In preparation for Europe's Mercury orbiter (BepiColombo), which will be launched in 2017, a co-ordinated effort is being mounted by the MESSENGER and BepiColombo teams to produce geological maps of the whole of Mercury using the best MESSENGER data available. The maps will provide very important contextual information for planning and interpreting BepiColombo data, and will replace the partial map coverage at 1:5M scale achieved using Mariner-10 data.
Mercury is divided into 15 mapping 'quadrangles' (including one at each pole), and the student on this project will be responsible for creating a geological map of one of the southern hemisphere quadrangles under the guidance of the supervision team at 1:3M scale. This will be ether the south polar quadrangle (H-15 Bach) between 66 S and the pole, or one of the four quadrangles (H-11 to H-14) in the belt occupying 21-66 S. The choice will depend on mapping known to be already underway by colleagues at other institutions. However, every quadrangle has a wide range of features and a long and complex geological history making it an exciting region to study. It is particularly important to understand Mercury's southern hemisphere as fully as possible. This hemisphere was less-well studied by MESSENGER, but it will be observed in detail by BepiColombo and so southern hemisphere mapping will establish the context for what we expect to be BepiColombo's most novel findings.
The student will compile a geological map in ArcGIS using MESSENGER narrow- and wide-angle-camera images supplemented by topographic and spectral data, all of which will be available from NASA's Planetary Data System (pds.nasa.gov), and will co-ordinate with colleagues mapping adjacent quadrangles. Mapping will follow United States Geological Survey protocols and conventions agreed among the joint MESSENGER-BepiColombo geological mapping team, and the map will be published via USGS. Online digital publication facilitates the inclusion of multiple layers, so that (for example) this new generation of maps could have a chronostratigraphic version (surface units divided by age, such as smooth plains, intercrater plains, and so on) and a more innovative lithostratigraphic version (for example subdividing plains into spectral types). Mercury is tectonically complex, and so the systems of isolated and linked faults will require careful attention.
Although a thorough quadrangle map will be the main product of this study, the intimate insight gained by close examination of any part of Mercury will offer plenty of opportunities for spin-off science. These could, for example, be geomorphological, tectonic, related to space-weathering, or related to volatile processes, according to the student's interests. We would expect the student to present findings at meetings such as the annual Lunar & Planetary Science Conference (Houston) and the European Planetary Science Conference, and also to submit papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals. The supervisors will train the student in ArcGIS and planetary geological mapping, in addition to which there will be opportunities to attend MESSENGER-BepiColombo mapping workshops in Europe and/or the USA. Experience of geological mapping in Earth would be an advantage.

Publications

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Galluzzi V. (2017) Building up the 1:3M geological map of Mercury in European Planetary Science Congress

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Galluzzi V. (2018) The Making of the 1:3M Geological Map Series of Mercury: Status and Updates in Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet

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Galluzzi Valentina (2019) Geological Mapping of Mercury in EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts

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Galluzzi Valentina (2017) The 1:3M geologic map of Mercury: progress and updates in EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts

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Malliband C. C. (2019) Potential Identification of Downslope Mass Movements on Mercury Driven by Volatile-Loss in 50th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

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Malliband C. C. (2019) 1:3M Geological Mapping of the Derain (H-10) Quadrangle of Mercury in 50th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

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Malliband C. C. (2018) Small Smooth Units ('Young' Lavas?) Abutting Lobate Scarps on Mercury in Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet

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Malliband C. C. (2018) 1:3M Geological Mapping of the Derain(H-10) Quadrangle of Mercury in Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet

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Malliband C. C. (2018) Potential Identification of Sublimation-Driven Downslope Mass Movement on Mercury in Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet

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Malliband C. C. (2017) Preliminary Results of 1:3 Million Geological Mapping of the Mercury Quadrangle H-10 (Derain) in 48th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/N50421X/1 30/09/2015 30/03/2021
1809705 Studentship ST/N50421X/1 30/09/2016 30/08/2020 Christopher Malliband
ST/R504993/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2021
1809705 Studentship ST/R504993/1 30/09/2016 30/08/2020 Christopher Malliband
 
Description Inviated Talk - Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Gave a talk at the De la Beche Symposym on the geology of Mercury and BepIColmbo.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Outreach talk to parents (~30 adults and children), and day of workshops for all KS2 pupils (~6 sessions of 20-30 pupils) in the school. This was done to support the loan of STFC 'borrow the moon' lunar samples. Outreach talk contracted on Mercury and it's scientific links to the Moon. Workshops focused on landing instruments on other solar system bodies, Huygens on Titan and ExoMars. Staff reported enthusiasm after the event from pupils and helped support their own provisions with the lunar samples.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School Visit (West Lancashire) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Ran sessions on BepiColombo and Exomars rover at secondary school with 4 classes (~30). Included handling of meteorite material. Students reported an increased awareness of geology, UK space activity, and planetary science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020