Constraints on Mercury's Na exosphere: Combined MESSENGER and ground-based data
Abbreviated Journal Title
Mercury, Atmosphere; SODIUM EXOSPHERE; NEUTRAL SODIUM; METEOROID IMPACTS; ATMOSPHERE; SURFACE; MAGNETOSPHERE; MODEL; POTASSIUM; DESORPTION; FLYBY; Astronomy & Astrophysics
We have used observations of sodium emission obtained with the McMath-Pierce solar telescope and MESSENGER's Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) to constrain models of Mercury's sodium exosphere. The distribution of sodium in Mercury's exosphere during the period January 12-15, 2008, was mapped using the McMath-Pierce solar telescope with the 5 '' x 5 '' image slicer to observe the D-line emission. On January 14, 2008, the Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer (UVVS) channel on MASCS sampled the sodium in Mercury's anti-sunward tail region. We find that the bound exosphere has an equivalent temperature of 900-1200 K, and that this temperature can be achieved if the sodium is ejected either by photon-stimulated desorption (PSD) with a 1200 K Maxwellian velocity distribution, or by thermal accommodation of a hotter source. We were not able to discriminate between the two assumed velocity distributions of the ejected particles for the PSD, but the velocity distributions require different values of the thermal accommodation coefficient and result in different upper limits on impact vaporization. We were able to place a strong constraint on the impact vaporization rate that results in the release of neutral Na atoms with an upper limit of 2.1 x 10(6) cm(-2) s(-1). The variability of the week-long ground-based observations can be explained by variations in the sources, including both PSD and ion-enhanced PSD, as well as possible temporal enhancements in meteoroid vaporization. Knowledge of both dayside and anti-sunward tail morphologies and radiances are necessary to correctly deduce the exospheric source rates, processes, velocity distribution, and surface interaction. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Constraints on Mercury's Na exosphere: Combined MESSENGER and ground-based data" (2011). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 1684.