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Alfven Wave Reflection Model of Field-Aligned Currents at MercuryAn Alfven Wave Reflection (AWR) model is proposed that provides closure for strong field-aligned currents (FACs) driven by the magnetopause reconnection in the magnetospheres of planets having no significant ionospheric and surface electrical conductance. The model is based on properties of the Alfven waves, generated at high altitudes and reflected from the low-conductivity surface of the planet. When magnetospheric convection is very slow, the incident and reflected Alfven waves propagate along approximately the same path. In this case, the net field-aligned currents will be small. However, as the convection speed increases. the reflected wave is displaced relatively to the incident wave so that the incident and reflected waves no longer compensate each other. In this case, the net field-aligned current may be large despite the lack of significant ionospheric and surface conductivity. Our estimate shows that for typical solar wind conditions at Mercury, the magnitude of Region 1-type FACs in Mercury's magnetosphere may reach hundreds of kilo-Amperes. This AWR model of field-aligned currents may provide a solution to the long-standing problem of the closure of FACs in the Mercury's magnetosphere. c2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Lyatsky, Wladislaw (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Khazanov, George V. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Slavin, James (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
September 1, 2010
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 209
Issue: 1
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits