Remote sensing of Mercury's magnetospheric plasma environment via energetic neutral atoms imaging

Stefano Orsini, Anna Milillo, Elisabetta De Angelis, Andrea Maria Di Lellis, Vincenzo Zanza, Stefano Livi

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Abstract

The potentiality of exploring the plasma dynamical behavior of Mercury via energetic neutral atom (ENA) analysis is briefly discussed. The analysis of the Hermean ENA would give clues to the global magnetospheric configuration, clarifying crucial issues like the existence of radiation belts. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of ENA imaging in the Hermean environment, an empirical model of the equatorial proton distributions, originally developed for the Earth's magnetosphere, is here modified in order to be applicable to the expected conditions, according to the present knowledge of the planet. Simulations of the ENA radiation are then presented and discussed. It is shown that the simulated radiation is significantly high, especially when pointing the field of view towards the Hermean surface. The way of determining the proton flux distributions and the cross-tail electric field characteristics by using the ENA signal is discussed. Finally, a preliminary design of an ENA detector suitable for the ESA mission to Mercury 'BepiColombo' is proposed and discussed. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1659 - 1668
Number of pages10
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Volume49
Issue number14-15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Orsini, S., Milillo, A., De Angelis, E., Di Lellis, A. M., Zanza, V., & Livi, S. (2001). Remote sensing of Mercury's magnetospheric plasma environment via energetic neutral atoms imaging. Planetary and Space Science, 49(14-15), 1659 - 1668. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0032-0633(01)00104-0