Gases/Gaseous objects/Mercury

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To accentuate the geological context of the spectral measurements, the MASCS data have been overlain on the MDIS monochrome mosaic. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

"The [Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer] MASCS instrument was designed to study both the exosphere and surface of Mercury. To learn more about the minerals and surface processes on Mercury, the Visual and Infrared Spectrometer (VIRS) [VIRS Color Composite Wavelengths: 575 nm as red, 415 nm/750 nm as green, 310 nm/390 nm as blue] portion of MASCS has been diligently collecting single tracks of spectral surface measurements since MESSENGER entered orbit. The track coverage is now extensive enough that the spectral properties of both broad terrains and small, distinct features such as pyroclastic vents and fresh craters can be studied. To accentuate the geological context of the spectral measurements, the MASCS data have been overlain on the MDIS monochrome mosaic."[1]

Opticals[edit | edit source]

This is a surface science image of a portion of Mercury's surface. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

"Optical reflectance studies of Mercury provide evidence for Mg silicates."[2]

"Solar heating at ‘‘noontime’’ at Mercury’s equator causes surface temperatures of ~700 K, while the side of Mercury away from the Sun cools to ~100 K (due to radiation losses) during the long night."[2]

"Mercury [has a] tenuous ballistic [atmosphere]."[2]

"The Tolstoj basin (355 km in diameter) can be seen at the bottom edge of the frame [on the right], its center filled with smooth plains and surrounded by a large region of low-reflectance ejecta. The fresh, bright-rayed crater Nureyev is visible near the limb."[3]

Ultraviolets[edit | edit source]

"[U]ltraviolet observations by Mariner 10 provided evidence for the presence of H and He in the atmosphere (~1011 and 1012 atoms cm-2 respectively3"[4].

Aboard Mariner 10, "[t]he extreme ultraviolet spectrometer consisted of two instruments: an occultation spectrometer that was body-fixed to the spacecraft and an airglow spectrometer that was mounted on the scan platform. When the sun was obscured by the limbs of the planet, the occultation spectrometer measured the extinction properties of the atmosphere. The occultation spectrometer had a plane grating which operated at grazing incidence. The fluxes were measured at 47.0, 74.0, 81.0, and 89.0 nm using channel electron multipliers. Pinholes defined the effective field of view of the instrument which was 0.15 degree full width at half maximum (FWHM). Isolated spectral bands at approximately 75 nm (FWHM) were also measured. The objective grating airglow spectrometer was flown to measure airglow radiation from Venus and Mercury in the spectral range from 20.0--170.0 nm. With a spectral resolution of 2.0 nm, the instrument measured radiation at the following wavelengths: 30.4, 43.0, 58.4, 74.0, 86.9, 104.8, 121.6, 130.4, 148.0, and 165.7 nm. In addition, to provide a check on the total incident extreme UV flux to the spectrometer, two zero-order channels were flown. The effective field of view of the instrument was 0.13 by 3.6 degree. Data also include the interplanetary region."[5]

Yellows[edit | edit source]

"[H]igh-resolution spectral measurements of Mercury show emission in sodium D lines (Potter and Morgan 1985a). This suggests a substantial sodium population in Mercury's atmosphere ... possibly due to photo-sputtering of the planetary surface".[6]

Atmospheres[edit | edit source]

Sodium tail is of Mercury during the MESSENGER's first flyby on January 14, 2008. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Arizona State University/Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Mercury's calcium and magnesium tail is detected during the MESSENGER's third flyby on September 29, 2009. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

"As the MESSENGER spacecraft approached Mercury, the UVVS field of view was scanned across the planet's exospheric "tail," which is produced by the solar wind pushing Mercury's exosphere (the planet's extremely thin atmosphere) outward. This figure [on the right] shows a map of the distribution of sodium atoms as they stream away from the planet (see PIA10396); red and yellow colors represent a higher abundance of sodium than darker shades of blue and purple, as shown in the colored scale bar, which gives the brightness intensity in units of kiloRayleighs. The escaping atoms eventually form a comet-like tail that extends in the direction opposite that of the Sun for many planetary radii. The small squares outlined in black correspond to individual measurements that were used to create the full map. These measurements are the highest-spatial-resolution observations ever made of Mercury's tail. In less than six weeks, on October 6, 2008, similar measurements will be made during MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury. Comparing the measurements from the two flybys will provide an unprecedented look at how Mercury's dynamic exosphere and tail vary with time."[7]

"These figures [on the lower right] show observations of calcium and magnesium in Mercury's neutral tail during the third MESSENGER Mercury flyby. The distribution of neutral calcium in the tail appears to be centered near the equatorial plane and the emission rapidly decreases to the north and south as well as in the anti-sunward direction. In contrast, the distribution of magnesium in the tail exhibits several strong peaks in emission and a slower decrease in the north, south, and anti-sunward directions. These distributions are similar to those seen during the second flyby, but the densities were higher during the third flyby, a different "seasonal" variation than for sodium. Studying the changes of the "seasons" for a range of species during MESSENGER's orbital mission phase will be key to quantifying the processes that generate and maintain the exosphere and transport volatile material within the Mercury environment."[8]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sue Lavoie (16 April 2015). PIA19419: Unmasking the Secrets of Mercury. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Theodore E. Madey; Robert E. Johnson; Thom M. Orlando (March 2002). "Far-out surface science: radiation-induced surface processes in the solar system". Surface Science 500 (1-3): 838-58. doi:10.1016/S0039-6028(01)01556-4. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  3. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington (21 November 2013). Tolstoj and Nureyev. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  4. M. A. McGrath; R. E. Johnson; L. J. Lanzerotti (October 23, 1986). "Sputtering of sodium on the planet Mercury". Nature 323 (6090): 694-6. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  5. David R. Williams (May 14, 2012). Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer. Greenbelt, Maryland: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  6. C. T. Russell; D. N. Baker; J. A. Slavin (January 1, 1988). Faith Vilas. ed. The Magnetosphere of Mercury, In: Mercury. Tucson, Arizona, United States of America: University of Arizona Press. pp. 514-61. ISBN 0816510857. Bibcode: Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  7. McClintock (14 January 2008). PIA11076: Exploring Mercury's "Tail". Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  8. Sue Lavoie (29 September 2009). PIA12366: Calcium and Magnesium in Mercury's Exosphere. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 

External links[edit | edit source]