Solar wind scattering from the surface of Mercury: Lessons from the Moon

Lue, Charles; Futaana, Yoshifumi; Barabash, Stas; Wieser, Martin; Bhardwaj, Anil; Wurz, Peter; Asamura, Kazushi (2017). Solar wind scattering from the surface of Mercury: Lessons from the Moon. Icarus, 296, pp. 39-48. Elsevier 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.05.019

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We discuss the surface-scattering of solar wind protons at Mercury based on observed scattering characteristics from lunar regolith. The properties of the impinging plasma are expected to be different between different regions on Mercury, and between Mercury and the Moon. Here, we review the expected Hermean plasma conditions and lunar empirical scattering models. We present observed and modeled energy spectra for scattered protons and hydrogen energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) for three cases of very different plasma conditions at the Moon. Then, we simulate scattering from the Hermean surface by applying the empirical models to four different scenarios of plasma precipitation on Mercury. The results suggest that surface-scattering is a strong source of ENAs at Mercury (up to ~10⁸ cm⁻² s⁻¹), which can be very useful for remote-sensing of the plasma conditions at the surface. Protons scattered from the surface back into space are also expected with high fluxes up to ~10⁷ cm⁻² s⁻¹, and may be important for wave generation and the filling in of the loss cone of mirroring and quasi-trapped populations. Scattered protons at the cusp region (of ~10⁶ cm⁻² s⁻¹) can potentially be detected by orbiters as outflowing protons within the loss cone.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Wurz, Peter


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

20 Nov 2017 09:41

Last Modified:

20 Nov 2017 09:41

Publisher DOI:





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