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Geophys Res Lett. 2017 Aug 16;44(15):7686-7694. doi: 10.1002/2017GL074172. Epub 2017 Aug 5.

Evidence for a Low Bulk Crustal Density for Mars from Gravity and Topography.

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CRESST, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 54-918, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
Emergent Space Technologies, 6411 Ivy Lane Suite 303, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA.


Knowledge of the average density of the crust of a planet is important in determining its interior structure. The combination of high-resolution gravity and topography data has yielded a low density for the Moon's crust, yet for other terrestrial planets the resolution of the gravity field models has hampered reasonable estimates. By using well-chosen constraints derived from topography during gravity field model determination using satellite tracking data, we show that we can robustly and independently determine the average bulk crustal density directly from the tracking data, using the admittance between topography and imperfect gravity. We find a low average bulk crustal density for Mars, 2582 ± 209 kg m-3. This bulk crustal density is lower than that assumed until now. Densities for volcanic complexes are higher, consistent with earlier estimates, implying large lateral variations in crustal density. In addition, we find indications that the crustal density increases with depth.

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