University of Oulu

Visible and near infrared spectroscopy of Mercury and Venus from orbit

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Author: D’Incecco, Piero1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Astronomy
2Institute for Planetary Research German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 42.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2017
Publish Date: 2017-02-16
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Doctoral Training Committee for Technology and Natural Sciences on Friday, 31st of March, starting at 12:00 in the lecture hall IT115 at the Linnanmaa campus at the University of Oulu.
Tutor: Professor Jürgen Schmidt
Doctor Jörn Helbert
Reviewer: Doctor Thomas Widemann
Doctor Colin Wilson
Opponent: Doctor Johannes Benkhoff
Kustos: Professor Jürgen Schmidt


The present thesis exposes methods and results obtained exploiting information provided by visible and near-infrared spectra over Mercury and Venus. We use information from different datasets to perform a geologically supervised investigation, in order to identify the presence of compositional heterogeneities and reconstruct the stratigraphy in the shallow crust of the two Terrestrial planets. We name these procedures “Datasets Fusion Techniques” (DFTs). We combine the MASCS dataset with the MDIS dataset from the MESSENGER mission to analyze the local and global crustal properties of Mercury. We select all MASCS observations contained within geologic units previously mapped using high-resolution MDIS NAC images. Similarly, we combine the Venus Express VIRTIS dataset with Magellan SAR imaging dataset for identifying location and extent of the recently active lava flows possibly responsible for the relatively high 1 μm emissivity anomalies observed by the VIRTIS instrument on Idunn Mons on Venus. Using a forward modeling-like procedure, we mapped a number of lava flows on Magellan SAR images, then assigning them a different value of simulated emissivity at each iteration. We found one non-unique solution which well approximates VIRTIS observations. This thesis is a comprehensive study which embraces three main research works performed during the current PhD project. The results show the occurrence of vertical and horizontal heterogeneities in the composition of the shallow crust of Mercury, providing as well important indications for the presence of N-S dichotomy. We also found that the recently active lava flows on Idunn Mons are most likely flank flows located on the eastern flank of the volcanic structure. We could finally reconstruct the stratigraphy beneath the local scale study areas of Mercury and Venus. This PhD thesis demonstrates that DFTs can be used as a powerful expedient for improving the quality of information we can achieve from remote sensing analyses.

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Original papers

  1. Piero D’Incecco, Jörn Helbert, Mario D’Amore, Alessandro Maturilli, James W. Head, Rachel L. Klima, Noam R. Izenberg, William E. McClintock, Harald Hiesinger, Sabrina Ferrari, Shallow crustal composition of Mercury as revealed by spectral properties and geological units of two impact craters, Planetary and Space Science, Volume 119, 15 December 2015, Pages 250-263, ISSN 0032-0633,


    Keywords: Mercury; MESSENGER; MASCS; MDIS; Impact craters; Stratigraphy

  2. Piero D’Incecco, Jörn Helbert, Mario D’Amore, Sabrina Ferrari, James W. Head, Alessandro Maturilli, Harald Hiesinger, A geologically supervised spectral analysis of 121 globally distributed impact craters as a tool for identifying vertical and horizontal heterogeneities in the composition of the shallow crust of Mercury, Planetary and Space Science, Volume 132, 1 November 2016, Pages 32-56, ISSN 0032-0633,


    Keywords: Mercury; MESSENGER; MASCS; MDIS; Impact craters; Datasets Fusion Techniques (DFTs)

  3. Piero D'Incecco, Nils Müller, Jörn Helbert, Mario D'Amore, Idunn Mons on Venus: Location and extent of recently active lava flows, Planetary and Space Science, Volume 136, February 2017, Pages 25-33, ISSN 0032-0633,


    Keywords: Venus; VIRTIS; Magellan; Volcanism; Idunn Mons; Stratigraphy

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Series: Report series in physical sciences
ISSN: 1239-4327
ISSN-L: 1239-4327
ISBN: 978-952-62-1506-8
ISBN Print: 978-952-62-1505-1
Issue: 110
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2017. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.