Heavy Ion Composition of Mercury's Magnetosphere

Wurz, Peter; Gamborino Uzcanga, Diana; Vorburger, Audrey Helena; Raines, J. M. (2019). Heavy Ion Composition of Mercury's Magnetosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 124(4), pp. 2603-2612. AGU Publications 10.1029/2018ja026319

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We modeled the exospheric densities for sputtering and thermal desorption in detail for the time period of the first MESSENGER flyby of Mercury. From the exospheric densities we calculate ion production rates. These ions will be transported to the location of MESSENGER if they are produced on magnetic field lines connecting the cusp with the downwind side. From these ions we produce mass spectra that we compared with the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer measurements performed during this flyby. We find good qualitative agreement between the modeled and the measured ion mass spectrum. We find that sputtering is a major process to contribute to the population of planetary ions in the magnetosphere because of the large scale height of the exospheric particles and the resulting long flight times. In addition, thermal desorption of Na contributes significant amounts to the magnetospheric ion population. From the volatile species we can identify He, OH, H₂O, and Ne in the measured mass spectrum. However, for most of the volatile species the reported upper limits must be reduced by 2–3 orders of magnitude to be compatible to the measured ion spectrum.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Wurz, Peter; Gamborino Uzcanga, Diana and Vorburger, Audrey Helena


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics




AGU Publications




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

16 Jul 2019 15:49

Last Modified:

16 Jul 2019 15:49

Publisher DOI:






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