Special Reports

Mercury's Exosphere: Observations During MESSENGER's First Mercury Flyby

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Science  04 Jul 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5885, pp. 92-94
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159467

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During MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby, the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer measured Mercury's exospheric emissions, including those from the antisunward sodium tail, calcium and sodium close to the planet, and hydrogen at high altitudes on the dayside. Spatial variations indicate that multiple source and loss processes generate and maintain the exosphere. Energetic processes connected to the solar wind and magnetospheric interaction with the planet likely played an important role in determining the distributions of exospheric species during the flyby.

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