THERMAL EFFECTS ON CAMERA FOCAL LENGTH IN MESSENGER STAR CALIBRATION AND ORBITAL IMAGING
We analyse images taken by the MErcury Surface, Space ENviorment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft for the camera’s thermal response in the harsh thermal environment near Mercury. Specifically, we study thermally induced variations in focal length of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). Within the several hundreds of images of star fields, the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) typically captures up to 250 stars in one frame of the panchromatic channel. We measure star positions and relate these to the known star coordinates taken from the Tycho-2 catalogue. We solve for camera pointing, the focal length parameter and two non-symmetrical distortion parameters for each image. Using data from the temperature sensors on the camera focal plane we model a linear focal length function in the form of f(T) = A0 + A1 T. Next, we use images from MESSENGER’s orbital mapping mission. We deal with large image blocks, typically used for the production of a high-resolution digital terrain models (DTM). We analyzed images from the combined quadrangles H03 and H07, a selected region, covered by approx. 10,600 images, in which we identified about 83,900 tiepoints. Using bundle block adjustments, we solved for the unknown coordinates of the control points, the pointing of the camera – as well as the camera’s focal length. We then fit the above linear function with respect to the focal plane temperature. As a result, we find a complex response of the camera to thermal conditions of the spacecraft. To first order, we see a linear increase by approx. 0.0107 mm per degree temperature for the Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC). This is in agreement with the observed thermal response seen in images of the panchromatic channel of the WAC. Unfortunately, further comparisons of results from the two methods, both of which use different portions of the available image data, are limited. If leaving uncorrected, these effects may pose significant difficulties in the photogrammetric analysis, specifically these may be responsible for erroneous longwavelength trends in topographic models.