Short-term variations of Mercury's cusps Na emission
Massetti, S. ; Mangano, V. ; Milillo, A. ; ...Plainaki, C.
Sep - 2017

Event Title : European Planetary Science Congress 2017, held 17-22 September, 2017 in Riga Latvia
Published in: European Planetary Science Congress 2017
Publisher: EPSC
type: Conference Proceedings

We illustrate 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 THEMIS solar 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 can exhibits fluctuations in the time range of tens of minutes.

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