Evidence for water_ice_near_mercury_north_pole_from_messenger _neutron_spectrometer_measurements


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Evidence for water_ice_near_mercury_north_pole_from_messenger _neutron_spectrometer_measurements

  1. 1. Reports are sensitive to variations of averageEvidence for Water Ice Near Mercury’s atomic mass (<A>) in dry planetary materials (4). Finally, fast and epi-North Pole from MESSENGER thermal neutrons have different sensi- tivities to the depth and abundance ofNeutron Spectrometer Measurements hydrogen within a hydrogen-rich layer that is covered by tens of centimeters of a hydrogen-poor material. Conse- quently, combined measurements ofDavid J. Lawrence,1* William C. Feldman,2 John O. Goldsten,1 Sylvestre epithermal and fast neutrons have beenMaurice,3 Patrick N. Peplowski,1 Brian J. Anderson,1 David Bazell,1 Ralph L. used to determine the burial depth of aMcNutt Jr.,1 Larry R. Nittler,4 Thomas H. Prettyman,2 Douglas J. Rodgers,1 concentrated hydrogen layer (5).Sean C. Solomon,4,5 Shoshana Z. Weider4 The NS is a scintillator-based in-1 strument that separately measures The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723, USA. thermal, epithermal, and fast neutrons2 Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA. through a combination of spacecraft3 IRAP, Université Paul Sabatier–CNRS–Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France. Doppler and coincidence pulse pro-4 cessing techniques (6). Because of its Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC 20015, USA. Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on December 1, 20125 highly eccentric orbit, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA. MESSENGER spacecraft is at a mod-*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: david.j.lawrence@jhuapl.edu erately high altitude (200 to 600 km) when it passes over or near the radar-Measurements by the Neutron Spectrometer on the MESSENGER spacecraft show bright regions in Mercury’s north polardecreases in the flux of epithermal and fast neutrons from Mercury’s north polar region. As a consequence, the omnidi-region that are consistent with the presence of water ice in permanently shadowed rectional neutron measurements have aregions. The neutron data indicate that Mercury’s radar-bright polar deposits large spatial footprint (300 to 900 kmcontain, on average, a hydrogen-rich layer more than tens of centimeters thick full-width, half maximum) comparedbeneath a surficial layer 10–20 cm thick that is less rich in hydrogen. The buried with the size of the radar-bright regionslayer must be nearly pure water ice. The upper layer contains less than 25 wt.% (<40 km), so individual deposits can-water-equivalent hydrogen. The total mass of water at Mercury’s poles is inferred to not be spatially resolved (7). If exten-be 2 × 1016 to 1018 g and is consistent with delivery by comets or volatile-rich sive water ice is present in theasteroids. locations of the radar-bright regions, fast and epithermal neutron count rates will show a count rate decrease of 4%Earth-based measurements of radar-bright regions near Mercury’s north or less poleward of latitudes 60–70°and south poles were initially reported in 1992 (1), and subsequent compared with count rates at lower latitudes (7).measurements showed that these unusual radar characteristics are con- NS data analysis has been carried out with empirically derived cor-fined to permanently shadowed regions within high-latitude impact cra- rections applied in parallel with a neutron count rate simulation (8). Theters (2). The leading explanation for the high radar reflectance is the count rate simulation, which was validated with flyby data (9), accountspresence of large amounts of water ice that can be thermally stable in for the production of neutrons within the surface by galactic cosmic rays,regions of permanent shadow over geologically long periods of time (2). their transport to the spacecraft, and their detection by the NS. The simu-One of the primary goals of NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENviron- lation was used to guide and constrain the empirical corrections and toment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission is to charac- provide a capability for bounding the surface hydrogen concentrations.terize Mercury’s polar regions and thereby identify the principal The NS analysis requires corrections to account for non-isotropic solidcompositional component of the radar-bright regions. Here we report the angle variations, spacecraft obscuration effects, time variations in theresults on hydrogen concentrations near Mercury’s north pole from data incident cosmic ray flux, near-surface temperature variations, and varia-acquired with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer (NS). tions from a radial velocity Doppler effect. The radial Doppler effect Planetary neutron spectroscopy is a standard technique for remotely arises because the speed of the MESSENGER spacecraft in the directionmeasuring planetary hydrogen concentrations (3). Neutrons are created of the spacecraft–planet-center vector has a magnitude (0–2 km/s) that isby nuclear spallation reactions when high-energy cosmic rays strike the similar to the speed of thermal and low-energy epithermal neutrons (~2surface of an airless or nearly airless planetary body. The energy spectra km/s) (10). Doppler-induced effects are negligible for fast neutrons butof the resulting neutrons, which are typically created at energies (En) in have a magnitude of a few percent for low-energy epithermal neutronsexcess of ~1–10 MeV, are typically divided into three energy ranges: and therefore need to be considered.fast (En > 0.5 MeV), epithermal (0.5 eV < En < 0.5 MeV), and thermal Fully corrected, longitudinally averaged count rates for fast neutrons(En < 0.5 eV) (Fig. 1A). Hydrogen has a unique ability to moderate neu- are shown in Fig. 2 as a function of latitude for data collected from 26trons because hydrogen atoms and neutrons have the same mass, which March 2011 to 25 February 2012 (8). Simulated count rates were calcu-allows a highly efficient momentum transfer between the two. This effi- lated for the measured count rate collection periods and include all view-cient momentum transfer causes the number of epithermal neutrons to be ing geometry effects. The simulation shows that if the radar-brightstrongly depressed so that they are highly sensitive to the presence of regions contain no hydrogen, fast neutrons would display no latitudehydrogen in planetary materials. Fast neutrons are also sensitive to the dependence. In contrast, when a thick surface layer (i.e., having a thick-presence of hydrogen but vary with hydrogen concentration by a factor ness greater than the depth of sensitivity of the NS) consisting of 100of two less than epithermal neutrons (Fig. 1B). In addition, fast neutrons wt.% water-equivalent hydrogen (WEH) is included within all mapped radar-bright regions, the simulation shows a poleward decrease of 1.8% / http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 29 November 2012 / Page 1/ 10.1126/science.1229953
  2. 2. in fast neutrons relative to count rates closer to the equator. The NS interact with populations of energetic electrons (EEs) on nearly everymeasurements, in comparison, show a poleward decrease of 1.1% (Fig. orbit (20). The presence of small EE events results in a systematic un-2). When the latitude-dependent signal is averaged over two latitude derestimate of the net neutron counts (8). An empirical correction waszones (northward of 75°N and southward of 45°N), the fast neutron applied to reduce the magnitude of this effect to give the 0.2–0.5% levelcount rate at the north pole has value of 0.9898 ± 0.0020 (two standard seen in Fig. 3A. Non-polar latitude ranges (30–40°N and >60°N) overdeviations, or 2-σ) relative to unity at the equator with a statistical signif- which EE events are largely absent display the best agreement betweenicance of 11-σ (8). In comparison, simulated count rates with compara- data and simulations (<0.2%). These combined results provide us withble Poisson uncertainties show that if the radar-bright regions were to confidence that the simulation accurately represents the data and differ-contain a thick surface layer of 100 wt.% water ice, then there would be ences other than the polar effect result from an as yet imperfect correc-a 0.978 ± 0.001 (2-σ) signal with an 18-σ statistical significance (8). tion for EE events that do not strongly affect the polar measurement. To properly interpret the fast neutron data, variations in the fast neu- Subsurface temperature variations are a second potential source oftron flux unrelated to hydrogen must first be understood. From surface variation in the epithermal neutron count rate unrelated to polar hydro-elemental abundances on Mercury (11–15) and assumptions on probable gen (21, 22). From subsurface temperature models (23), the neutronmineralogical assemblages (8), the value of <A> for Mercury’s northern simulations (8), and the fact that epithermal neutrons are sensitive tovolcanic plains (16) may be lower by as much as 0.06 to 0.18 amu than temperatures at a product of depth and density equal to ~30 g/cm2 (21),for the surrounding intercrater plains and heavily cratered terrain (8). we estimate that the variations with temperature account for no moreWith the longitudinally averaged data, an <A> decrease in the northern than a 0.16% variation between 70°N and 85°N. Thus, although temper-plains is likely to be indistinguishable from a hydrogen signal from ra- ature variations might widen the uncertainty limits, the effect is expected Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on December 1, 2012dar-bright areas given the broad spatial footprint and limited statistics of to be more than an order of magnitude smaller than the measured polarthe fast neutron data. A 0.06 to 0.18 amu change in <A> corresponds to signal.a 0.06% to 0.18% decrease in relative fast neutron count rate (4). This The epithermal neutron data alone provide strong evidence that Mer-maximum variation is close to the measured 0.20% 2-σ uncertainty and cury’s north polar radar-bright regions contain high concentrations ofadds only a small increase to the overall uncertainty of the fast neutron hydrogen, consistent with the presence of water ice. If it is assumed thatpolar signal. the water ice is located within the radar-bright regions as a single thick Two conclusions follow from the polar measurements of fast neu- layer, then the epithermal neutron data are consistent with the presencetrons. First, the measured polar decrease is a factor of two smaller than of up to 100 wt.% WEH within these regions. That the 2-σ uncertainty ofexpected if all radar-bright regions contained pure or nearly pure (80– the measurements extends to a slightly larger signal than is given for the100 wt.%) water ice at the surface, so these data do not support the pres- hydrogen-rich simulation indicates that the epithermal neutron data areence of thick surficial deposits of water ice in all radar-bright regions. consistent with (but do not require) a larger total area than is specified bySecond, the regional dynamic range of approximately 1% for fast neu- the known radar-bright regions. In either case, however, the inferredtrons on Mercury is substantially smaller than that measured for Vesta hydrogen concentration with a single-layer assumption is not consistent(~10%) (17), the Moon (~38%) (18), or Mars (~300%) (19), where vari- with the fast neutron data, which exhibit a smaller signal than expectedations in <A> and/or hydrogen dominate. A 1% fast neutron dynamic for a single thick layer of water ice. The combined fast and epithermalrange therefore places strong constraints on the major element variability neutron data indicate that a hydrogen-rich layer is, on average, buriedacross Mercury’s surface on the spatial scale (few hundreds to 1000 km) beneath a layer of material noticeably less abundant in hydrogen.of the NS footprints. To estimate hydrogen concentrations and burial depth within the ra- Fully corrected, longitudinally averaged count rates for epithermal dar-bright regions, the neutron signals measured from orbit must be con-neutrons are shown as a function of latitude in Fig. 3 (8). Data collection verted to inferred neutron signals at the surface of the radar-brighttimes and selections are the same for epithermal neutrons as for fast regions. We used the neutron simulation as a forward model calibrationneutrons. The monotonic equator-to-pole variation is due mostly to the of the measured signals under the assumption that the entire decrease inradial Doppler effect, which is treated in the latitudinally binned count neutron flux originates from the radar-bright regions. This type of for-rates by normalizing both the 100 wt.% WEH simulation results and the ward modeling technique has been applied and validated with other nu-measurements to the no-water simulation rates (Fig. 3B). clear spectroscopy measurements involving large spatial footprints (24– The dominant, remaining signal in the measured epithermal neutron 26). With the forward model calibration (8), the inferred neutron signalsdata is a decrease at high latitudes, relative to the no-water simulation, at the surface of the radar-bright regions are 0.39 ± 0.13 (fast neutrons)that starts near latitude 70°N. The magnitude and latitude profile of this and 0.10 ± 0.059 (epithermal neutrons) relative to equatorward values.variation closely matches that of the simulated count rate for a thick, The independent fast and epithermal neutron measurements allow ussurficial layer of 100 wt.% water ice at all the radar-bright regions iden- to use a two-layer model with two free parameters constrained by thetified from radar observations (2). The good agreement between the data measurements (average thickness of the upper layer and hydrogen con-and simulation provides strong evidence that large amounts of hydrogen centration in one of the layers). We considered two end-member models.in the form of water ice are present in Mercury’s radar bright regions. For model 1, we assume that the upper layer contains no hydrogenUsing the highest-latitude value as the maximum polar signal, the epi- (wupper = 0 wt.% WEH), so that the effective thickness (t) of the upperthermal neutron data show a measured polar signal of 0.976 ± 0.0025 (2- layer, expressed as the product of density and thickness, and the hydro-σ), relative to an equatorial neutron signal of 1. Despite this strong polar gen content of the lower layer (wlower) are constrained by the data. Forsignal, relating the magnitude of the polar decrease of epithermal neu- model 2, we assumed that the lower layer has wlower = 100 wt.% WEH,trons to a hydrogen concentration within the radar-bright regions re- so that the effective thickness and hydrogen concentration of the upperquires careful consideration of other sources of variability within the layer are constrained by the data. These layering models represent anepithermal neutron data. average layering structure and actual layering need not correspond to a Differences between data and simulations that are unrelated to the uniform two-layer stratigraphy across the NS field of view for all radar-high-latitude signal have magnitudes of ~0.2–0.5% (Fig. 3A), which are bright regions. A distribution of different layer configurations among orat least a factor of five smaller than the measured latitudinal signal of within radar-bright regions can also satisfy the current data.2.4%. These differences are most notable at latitudes of 0–20°N and 40– From modeled neutron fluxes convolved with the respective NS effi-60°N. These are latitude ranges over which the spacecraft is known to ciencies, we calculated the relative count rates for fast and epithermal / http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 29 November 2012 / Page 2/ 10.1126/science.1229953
  3. 3. neutrons for a range of hydrogen concentrations and upper layer thick- thickness of tens of meters as estimated from models of radar scatteringnesses in the two-layer models. For model 1 (Fig. 4A), t = 12–35 g/cm2 (36) and an estimate of the area of permanent shadow in the north polarand wlower = 12–100 wt.% WEH. For model 2 (Fig. 4B), t = 12–35 g/cm2 region of (1.25–1.46) × 1014 cm2 (2), then an estimate of the total massand wupper = 0–25 wt.% WEH. These results are consistent with an aver- of water in the north polar region may be calculated. For a lower layerage two-layer stratigraphy in which the hydrogen concentration in the thickness in the range 0.5–20 m, the total mass of water ranges from 6.2upper layer is 0–25 wt.% WEH, the hydrogen concentration in the lower × 1015 g to 2.9 × 1017 g. If we assume that the radar-reflective regions inlayer is 12–100 wt.% WEH, and the effective thickness of the upper the south polar region are also dominantly water ice, then from the arealayer is 12–35 g/cm2. If a typical planetary regolith density of 1.5 g/cm3 of permanently shadowed regions at high southern latitudes of (4.3 ±is assumed (27), this effective thickness corresponds to a physical thick- 1.4) × 1014 cm2 (32), the total mass of ice in the south polar area rangesness of 8–23 cm. from 1.5 × 1016 to 1.1 × 1018 g, and the total mass of ice in both polar We note that although we have analyzed the NS data in the context regions is 2.1 × 1016 to 1.4 × 1018 g. The total mass could be larger if theof large hydrogen concentrations within Mercury’s permanently shad- lower layer thickness is greater than 20 m. The mass inferred here isowed regions, other physical distributions of hydrogen can be tested consistent with values estimated earlier (37), and the delivery of thisagainst the NS data. One possible distribution, for instance, is a broad amount of water is possible from the impact of some combination ofarea hydrogen enrichment poleward of ~70°N in which the hydrogen is comets and volatile-rich asteroids onto Mercury (37) followed by migra-emplaced in a single layer by solar wind. Under this scenario, the meas- tion to the poles with a polar cold-trapping rate of 5–15% (38). Modelsured epithermal neutron signal of 2.4% fills the NS field-of-view and an of surface modification that account for vertical and lateral mixing aver-average hydrogen concentration can be determined directly (28) to be 50 aged over large areas indicate that a pure water ice deposit will be buried Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on December 1, 2012ppm. Under this same scenario, however, the corresponding hydrogen by drier material at a rate of 0.43 cm/My (35, 39). The average thicknessconcentration derived from fast neutrons (28) would be 100 ppm, a value of the upper layer inferred from neutron spectrometry therefore suggestsinconsistent with that derived from epithermal neutrons. We therefore that Mercury’s polar water ice was emplaced sometime in the last 18–53conclude that such a broad distribution is not consistent with the neutron My.data, and the NS observations are better understood as the result of en-hanced concentrations of water ice within the radar-bright regions. References and Notes The NS results are consistent with observations made by the 1. M. A. Slade, B. J. Butler, D. O. Muhleman, Mercury radar imaging: EvidenceMESSENGER Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) and the Mercury Dual for polar ice. Science 258, 635 (1992). doi:10.1126/science.258.5082.635 MedlineImaging System (MDIS). 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The neutron data, however, do not have the spatial Acknowledgments: The authors are grateful to the entire MESSENGER team for resolution to distinguish regions of surface ice from the larger areas of their invaluable and skillful contributions to the development and operation of shallowly buried ice. Furthermore, multi-wavelength radar studies (2) suggest the spacecraft. The authors thank P. G. Lucey and two anonymous reviewers that polar deposits in the three largest north polar craters [Chesterton, Tolkien, for comments that improved the manuscript. D. J. Lawrence thanks D. Delapp and Tryggvadóttir (2)] that make a large contribution to the overall neutron and D. Seagraves of Los Alamos National Laboratory for early help in the signal are, on average, buried beneath a thin cover of dry soil or other data reduction and calibration, respectively, of the MESSENGER NS, and D. comparatively ice-poor material. Hurley for discussions regarding surface modification models. This work was30. G. A. Neumann et al., Bright and dark polar deposits on Mercury: Evidence supported by the NASA Discovery Program, with funding for MESSENGER for surface volatiles. Science 10.1126/science.1229764 (2012). provided under contract NAS5-97271 to The Johns Hopkins University31. N. L. Chabot et al., Craters hosting radar-bright deposits in Mercury’s north Applied Physics Laboratory and NASW-00002 to the Carnegie Institution of polar region: Areas of persistent shadow determined from MESSENGER Washington. Several authors are supported by NASA’s MESSENGER images. J. Geophys. Res. 10.1029/2012JE004172 (2012). Participating Scientist Program. All original data reported in this paper are doi:10.1029/2012JE004172 archived by the NASA Planetary Data System.32. N. L. Chabot et al., Areas of permanent shadow in Mercury’s south polar region ascertained by MESSENGER orbital imaging. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, Supplementary Materials L09204 (2012). doi:10.1029/2012GL051526 www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/science.1229953/DC133. A. L. Sprague, D. M. Hunten, K. Lodders, Sulfur at Mercury, elemental at the Supplementary Text poles and sulfides in the regolith. Icarus 118, 211 (1995). Figs. S1 to S23 doi:10.1006/icar.1995.1186 Tables S1 to S434. L. Starukhina; L. V. Starukhina Y. G. Shkuratov, The lunar poles: Water ice References (40–51) or chemically trapped hydrogen? Icarus 147, 585 (2000). doi:10.1006/icar.2000.6476 10 September 2012; accepted 13 November 201235. D. Crider, R. M. Killen, Burial rate of Mercury’s polar volatile deposits. Published online 29 November 2012 Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L12201 (2005). doi:10.1029/2005GL022689 10.1126/science.122995336. B. J. Butler, D. O. Muhleman, M. A. Slade, Mercury: Full-disk radar images and the detection and stability of ice at the north pole. J. Geophys. Res. 98, 15003 (1993). doi:10.1029/93JE0158137. J. I. Moses, K. Rawlins, K. Zahnle, L. Dones, External sources of water for Mercury’s putative ice deposits. Icarus 137, 197 (1999). doi:10.1006/icar.1998.603638. B. J. Butler, The migration of volatiles on the surfaces of Mercury and the / http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 29 November 2012 / Page 4/ 10.1126/science.1229953
  5. 5. Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on December 1, 2012Fig. 1. (A) Simulated neutron flux, plotted as the product of energy and flux versus energy. Simulations were performed withthe particle transport code MCNPX for a uniform sphere having Mercury’s radius and appropriate soil composition (7, 9) butwith a variable concentration of hydrogen from 0 wt.% water equivalent hydrogen (WEH) to 100 wt.% WEH. Nominal energyboundaries for thermal, epithermal, and fast neutrons are shown as vertical lines. (B) Relative epithermal (solid) and fast(dashed) MESSENGER NS simulated neutron count rates as a function WEH for the same soil compositions.Fig. 2. Measured (red) and simulated (black, blue) fast neutron count rates in units of normalized counts per second (cps)averaged over 2°-wide latitude bins and plotted as a function of latitude. All corrections (8) have been applied. Counts arenormalized to the mean count rate (~10 cps) at an altitude of 400 km. Simulated count rates are shown for the cases of nohydrogen (black) and for a thick layer of 100 wt.% water ice (blue) located at the surface in all radar-bright regions. The errorbars denote twice the measured standard deviation of the mean in each latitude bin. / http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 29 November 2012 / Page 5/ 10.1126/science.1229953
  6. 6. Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on December 1, 2012Fig. 3. (A) Measured (red) and simulated (black, blue) epithermal neutron count rates averaged over 2°-wide latitude bins andplotted as a function of latitude. All corrections except for a radial Doppler effect have been applied to the data (8). Counts arenormalized to the mean count rate (~60 cps) at an altitude of 400 km. Simulated count rates are shown for the cases of nohydrogen (black) and a thick layer of 100 wt.% water ice (blue) in the radar-bright regions. The error bars denote twice themeasured standard deviation of the mean in each latitude bin. (B) Simulated and measured epithermal neutron count ratesafter correcting for the radial Doppler effect, which is accomplished by normalizing to the simulation with no hydrogen.Fig. 4. (A) Simulated epithermal versus fast neutron relative count rates at the surface of the radar-bright regions for a two-layer model stratigraphy (model 1) with a range of values for the thickness of the upper layers and the hydrogen concentration 2of the lower layer. Black lines and numbers indicate upper-layer thickness contours in units of g/cm . Red lines and numbersindicate contours of lower-layer hydrogen concentrations in units of WEH wt.%. Vertical and horizontal dashed blue lines showthe 2-σ limits of the calibrated epithermal and fast neutron measurements from the MESSENGER NS. The solid bluebounding box illustrates the range of model thicknesses and hydrogen concentrations that lie within the measured 2-σ limits.(B) Simulated and measured fast and epithermal neutron count rates for model 2; hydrogen concentration values are shownfor an upper layer that overlies a thick layer of 100 wt.% water ice. / http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 29 November 2012 / Page 6/ 10.1126/science.1229953