Short-term observations of double-peaked Na emission from Mercury's exosphere
S. Massetti, V. Mangano, A. Milillo, A. Mura, S. Orsini, C. Plainaki
Apr - 2017
DOI: 10.1002/2017GL073090

journal : Geophysical Research Letters

Volume : 44 ; Issue : 7
type: Article Journal

We report the analysis of short-term ground-based observations of the exospheric Na emission (D1 and D2 lines) from Mercury, which was characterized by two high-latitude peaks confined near the magnetospheric cusp footprints. During a series of scheduled observations from the Télescope Héliographique pour l'Etude du Magnétisme et des Instabilités Solaires (THEMIS) telescope, achieved by scanning the whole planet, we implemented a series of extra measurements by recording the Na emission from a narrow north-south strip only, centered above the two emission peaks. Our aim was to inspect the existence of short-term variations, which were never analyzed before from ground-based observations, and their possible correlation with interplanetary magnetic field variations. Though Mercury possesses a miniature magnetosphere, characterized by fast reconnection events that develop on a timescale of few minutes, ground-based observations show that the exospheric Na emission pattern can be globally stable for a prolonged period (some days) and also exhibits fluctuations in the time range of tens of minutes.

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