Articles | Volume 37, issue 4
Regular paper
02 Jul 2019
Regular paper |  | 02 Jul 2019

Mercury's subsolar sodium exosphere: an ab initio calculation to interpret MASCS/UVVS observations from MESSENGER

Diana Gamborino, Audrey Vorburger, and Peter Wurz

Related authors

Mass spectrometry of planetary exospheres at high relative velocity: direct comparison of open- and closed-source measurements
Stefan Meyer, Marek Tulej, and Peter Wurz
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 1–8,,, 2017
Short summary

Cited articles

Anderson, B. J., Johnson, C. L., Korth, H., Purucker, M. E., Winslow, R. M., Slavin, J. A., Solomon, S. C., McNutt Jr., R. L., Raines, J. M., and Zurbuchen, T. H.: The global magnetic field of Mercury from MESSENGER orbital observations, Science, 333, 1859–1862,, 2011. a
Bishop, J. and Chamberlain, J. W.: Radiation pressure dynamics in planetary exospheres: A “natural” framework, Icarus, 81, 145–163,, 1989. a, b, c, d
Borin, P., Cremonese, G., Marzari, F., Bruno, M., and Marchi, S.: Statistical analysis of micrometeorites flux on Mercury, Astron. Astrophys., 503, 259–264,, 2009. a
Borin, P., Bruno, M., Cremonese, G., and Marzari, F.: Estimate of the neutral atoms' contribution to the Mercury exosphere caused by a new flux of micrometeoroids, Astron. Astrophys., 517, A89,, 2010. a
Broadfoot, A. L., Shemansky, D. E., and Kumar, S.: Mariner 10 – Mercury atmosphere, Geophys. Res. Lett., 3, 577–580., 1976. a
Short summary
We propose that the temperature of the Na exosphere of Mercury near the subsolar point is not at high as proposed in previous works. Using a numerical model and the appropriate energy distributions for each release mechanism, we can explain observations made by MESSENGER in April 2012. Our results show that close to the surface, the dominant release mechanism for Na is evaporation due to the solar irradiation, and at high altitudes the best candidate is the release by micro-meteoroid impacts.