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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 35, issue 3
Ann. Geophys., 35, 465–474, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-35-465-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 35, 465–474, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-35-465-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 22 Mar 2017

Regular paper | 22 Mar 2017

Estimation of a planetary magnetic field using a reduced magnetohydrodynamic model

Christian Nabert1, Daniel Heyner1, and Karl-Heinz Glassmeier1,2 Christian Nabert et al.
  • 1Institut für Geophysik und extraterrestrische Physik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstr. 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
  • 2Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

Abstract. Knowledge of planetary magnetic fields provides deep insights into the structure and dynamics of planets. Due to the interaction of a planet with the solar wind plasma, a rather complex magnetic environment is generated. The situation at planet Mercury is an example of the complexities occurring as this planet's field is rather weak and the magnetosphere rather small. New methods are presented to separate interior and exterior magnetic field contributions which are based on a dynamic inversion approach using a reduced magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) model and time-varying spacecraft observations. The methods select different data such as bow shock location information or magnetosheath magnetic field data. Our investigations are carried out in preparation for the upcoming dual-spacecraft BepiColombo mission set out to precisely estimate Mercury's intrinsic magnetic field. To validate our new approaches, we use THEMIS magnetosheath observations to estimate the known terrestrial dipole moment. The terrestrial magnetosheath provides observations from a strongly disturbed magnetic environment, comparable to the situation at Mercury. Statistical and systematic errors are considered and their dependence on the selected data sets are examined. Including time-dependent upstream solar wind variations rather than averaged conditions significantly reduces the statistical error of the estimation. Taking the entire magnetosheath data along the spacecraft's trajectory instead of only the bow shock location into account further improves accuracy of the estimated dipole moment.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Knowledge of planetary magnetic fields provides deep insights into the structure and dynamics of planets. Due to the interaction of a planet with the solar wind plasma, electrical currents are generated which modify the planetary magnetic field outside the planet. New methods are presented to estimate the planetary magnetic field contribution from spacecraft observations. A reduced model of the interaction relates the time-varying observations to the planetary magnetic field magnitude.
Knowledge of planetary magnetic fields provides deep insights into the structure and dynamics of...
Citation