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Solar wind scattering from the surface of Mercury: Lessons from the Moon
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Box 812, SE-98128 Kiruna, Sweden; Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Iowa, 30 N Dubuque St, IA 52242 Iowa City, United States.
Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden.
Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden.
Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Icarus, ISSN 0019-1035, Vol. 296, 39-48 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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 similar to 10(8) 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 similar to 10(7) 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 similar to 10(6) cm(-2) s(-1)) can potentially be detected by orbiters as outflowing protons within the loss cone.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 296, 39-48 p.
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111248DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.05.019ISI: 000406989200004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-111248DiVA: diva2:868734
Available from: 2015-11-11 Created: 2015-11-11 Last updated: 2017-09-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Solar Wind Proton Interactions with Lunar Magnetic Anomalies and Regolith
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Solar Wind Proton Interactions with Lunar Magnetic Anomalies and Regolith
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Solvindsprotoners växelverkan med månens magnetiska anomalier och yta
Abstract [en]

The lunar space environment is shaped by the interaction between the Moon and the solar wind. In the present thesis, we investigate two aspects of this interaction, namely the interaction between solar wind protons and lunar crustal magnetic anomalies, and the interaction between solar wind protons and lunar regolith. We use particle sensors that were carried onboard the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter to analyze solar wind protons that reflect from the Moon, including protons that capture an electron from the lunar regolith and reflect as energetic neutral atoms of hydrogen. We also employ computer simulations and use a hybrid plasma solver to expand on the results from the satellite measurements.

The observations from Chandrayaan-1 reveal that the reflection of solar wind protons from magnetic anomalies is a common phenomenon on the Moon, occurring even at relatively small anomalies that have a lateral extent of less than 100 km. At the largest magnetic anomaly cluster (with a diameter of 1000 km), an average of ~10% of the incoming solar wind protons are reflected to space. Our computer simulations show that these reflected proton streams significantly modify the global lunar plasma environment. The reflected protons can enter the lunar wake and impact the lunar nightside surface. They can also reach far upstream of the Moon and disturb the solar wind flow. In the local environment at a 200 km-scale magnetic anomaly, our simulations show a heated and deflected plasma flow and the formation of regions with reduced or increased proton precipitation.

We also observe solar wind protons reflected from the lunar regolith. These proton fluxes are generally lower than those from the magnetic anomalies. We find that the proton reflection efficiency from the regolith varies between ~0.01% and ~1%, in correlation with changes in the solar wind speed. We link this to a velocity dependent charge-exchange process occurring when the particles leave the lunar regolith. Further, we investigate how the properties of the reflected neutral hydrogen atoms depend on the solar wind temperature. We develop a model to describe this dependence, and use this model to study the plasma precipitation on the Moon when it is in the terrestrial magnetosheath. We then use the results from these and other studies, to model solar wind reflection from the surface of the planet Mercury.

Abstract [sv]

Rymdmiljön runt månen formas av den växelverkan som sker mellan månen och solvinden. I den föreliggande avhandlingen undersöker vi två aspekter av denna växerverkan, nämligen växelverkan mellan solvindsprotoner och magnetiserade områden i månskorpan, och växelverkan mellan solvindsprotoner och månens ytdamm. Vi använder oss av partikelsensorer på månsatelliten Chandrayaan-1 för att analysera solvindsprotoner som reflekteras från månen, även de protoner som fångar upp en elektron från ytan och reflekteras som neutrala väteatomer. Vi använder oss också av datorsimuleringar för att bygga vidare på de uppmätta resultaten.

Observationerna från Chandrayaan-1 visar att reflektion av solvindsprotoner från magnetiserade områden är ett vanligt förekommande fenomen på månen, som inträffar även vid magnetiseringar som är utbredda över mindre än 100 km. Vid det största magnetiserade området på månen (1000 km i diameter), reflekteras i genomsnitt ~10% av de infallande solvindsprotonerna. Våra datorsimuleringar visar att dessa protonflöden har globala effekter på månens plasmamiljö. De reflekterade protonerna kan nå månens nattsida. De kan också nå långt uppströms om månen och störa solvindsflödet. I den lokala plasmamiljön vid ett magnetiserat område av storleken 200 km visar våra simuleringar ett förändrat solvindsflöde, där det skapas områden som delvis skyddas från solvinden, likväl som områden som utsätts för mer solvind.

Vi observerar även solvindsprotoner som reflekterats från ytdammet på månen. Dessa protonflöden är lägre än de från de magnetiska fälten. Reflektionen från ytan varierar mellan ~0.01% och 1% av solvindsflödet, i samband med förändringar i solvindshastigheten. Vi förklarar detta med att partiklarnas laddning bestäms av den hastighet de har när de lämnar måndammet. Vidare undersöker vi hur egenskaperna hos de reflekterade neutrala väteatomerna beror på solvindstemperaturen. Vi skapar en modell för att beskriva sambandet och använder sedan denna modell för att studera hur solvinden faller in mot månens yta när den befinner sig i jordens magnetoskikt, där jordens magnetfält orsakar en upphettning av solvindsflödet. Resultaten från dessa och andra studier använder vi sedan för att modellera solvindsreflektion från planeten Merkurius yta, för jämförelse med framtida observationer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2015. 180 p.
Series
IRF Scientific Report, ISSN 0284-1703 ; 306
Keyword
the Moon, solar wind, magnetic anomalies, regolith, space physics, plasma physics, particle-surface interactions, mini-magnetospheres, energetic neutral atoms
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Research subject
Space Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111254 (URN)978-91-982951-0-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-04, Aulan vid Institutet för rymdfysik, Rymdcampus 1, Kiruna, 14:23 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish National Space Board, 97/11
Available from: 2015-11-13 Created: 2015-11-11 Last updated: 2016-02-03Bibliographically approved

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