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imaging the sources and full extent of the sodium tail of the planet mercuryObservations of sodium emission from Mercury can be used to describe the spatial and temporal patterns of sources and sinks in the planet s surface-boundary-exosphere. We report on new data sets that provide the highest spatial resolution of source regions at polar latitudes, as well as the extraordinary length of a tail of escaping Na atoms. The tail s extent of approx.1.5 degrees (nearly 1400 Mercury radii) is driven by radiation pressure effects upon Na atoms sputtered from the surface in the previous approx.5 hours. Wide-angle filtered-imaging instruments are thus capable of studying the time history of sputtering processes of sodium and other species at Mercury from ground-based observatories in concert with upcoming satellite missions to the planet. Plasma tails produced by photo-ionization of Na and other gases in Mercury s neutral tails may be observable by in-situ instruments.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Baumgardner, Jeffrey
(Boston Univ. Boston, MA, United States)
Wilson, Jody
(Boston Univ. Boston, MA, United States)
Mendillo, Michael
(Boston Univ. Boston, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
February 2, 2008
Publication Information
Publication: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 35
ISSN: 0094-8276
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits