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Meierhenrich, UJ ; Thiemann, WHP ; Barbier, B ; Brack, A ; Alcaraz, C ; Nahon, L ; Wolstencroft, R

Circular polarization of light by planet mercury and enantiomorphism of its surface minerals

Origins of Life and Evolution of The Biosphere 32 (2) 181-190

par Administrateur - publié le

Abstract :

Different mechanisms for the generation of circular polarization by the surface of planets and satellites are described. The observed values for Venus, the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter obtained by photo-polarimetric measurements with Earth based telescopes, showed accordance with theory. However, for planet Mercury asymmetric parameters in the circular polarization were measured that do not fit with calculations. For BepiColombo, the ESA cornerstone mission 5 to Mercury, we propose to investigate this phenomenon using a concept which includes two instruments. The first instrument is a high-resolution optical polarimeter, capable to determine and map the circular polarization by remote scanning of Mercury’s surface from the Mercury Planetary Orbiter MPO. The second instrument is an in situ sensor for the detection of the enantiomorphism of surface crystals and minerals, proposed to be included in the Mercury Lander MSE.