The Bond albedo is the fraction of power in the total electromagnetic radiation incident on an astronomical body that is scattered back out into space. This takes into account all wavelengths.

It is an important quantity for characterising a planetary body's energy balance.

For objects in the solar system, the main contribution comes from visible light because the majority of solar output is in this range. Like most albedos the Bond albedo is a value between 0 and 1.

The Bond albedo (A) is related to the geometric albedo (p) by the expression

$ A = p q \frac{}{} $

where (q) is termed the phase integral and is given in terms of the directional scattered flux I(α) into phase angle α (averaged over all wavelengths and azimuthal angles) as

$ q = 2\int_0^{\pi}\frac{I(\alpha)}{I(0)} \sin \alpha d\alpha. $

The phase angle α is the angle between the source of the radiation (usually the Sun) and the observing direction, and varies from zero for light scattered back towards the source, to 180° for observations looking in the direction of the source.

Because bodies in the outer solar system are always observed at very low phase angles from the Earth, the only reliable data for measuring their Bond albedo comes from spacecraft.

The Bond albedo is named for the American astronomer George Bond (1825-1865), who originally proposed it. It was originally defined for spherical bodies, but is also applicable for irregular objects.


The Bond albedo may be greater or smaller than the geometric albedo, depending on surface and atmospheric properties of the body in question. Some examples [1]:

Name Bond Albedo Geometric albedo
Mercury 0.119 0.138
Venus 0.75 0.84
Earth 0.29 0.367
Moon 0.123 0.113
Mars 0.16 0.15
Enceladus 0.99 1.4 [2]
Pluto 0.4 0.44-0.61

See also

External links


  2. See the discussion here for explanation of this unusual value above one.
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