Investigation of the possible effects of comet Encke's meteoroid stream on the Ca exosphere of Mercury
Christina Plainaki ; Alessandro Mura ; Anna Milillo ; et al.
Jun - 2017
DOI: 10.1002/2017JE005304

journal : Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

Volume : 122 ; Issue : 6
type: Article Journal

The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) observations of the seasonal variability of Mercury's Ca exosphere are consistent with the general idea that the Ca atoms originate from the bombardment of the surface by particles from comet 2P/Encke. The generating mechanism is believed to be a combination of different processes including the release of atomic and molecular surface particles and the photodissociation of exospheric molecules. Considering different generation and loss mechanisms, we perform simulations with a 3-D Monte Carlo model based on the exosphere generation model by Mura et al. (2009). We present for the first time the 3-D spatial distribution of the CaO and Ca exospheres generated through the process of micrometeoroid impact vaporization, and we show that the morphology of the latter is consistent with the available MESSENGER/Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer observations. The results presented in this paper can be useful in the exosphere observations planning for BepiColombo, the upcoming European Space Agency-Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency mission to Mercury.

keywords : Mercury; exosphere