Science Program

Key Questions

MESSENGER Spacecraft

This workshop is organized to address several “key” questions that are stimulated by the MESSENGER observations:

  1. How does the structure of Mercury’s magnetosphere and exosphere change as a function of orbital phase and under average and extreme solar wind conditions?
  2. What are the flux and energy distribution of solar wind and magnetospheric plasma impinging upon the planet?  How much do they vary and what factors control their variability?
  3. What are the values of fundamental physical parameters that are required to interpret the exosphere data:
    1. Yields, chemical compositions, ionization states, and energy distributions of surface materials released by precipitating ions and electrons.
    2. Basic atomic and molecular parameters:  Ionization lifetimes, sputtering line ratios, dissociation energies of molecules.
    3. Other processes, such as surface chemistry, meteor streams, Lyman alpha background and its variation.
  4. What is the planetary ion density in the magnetosphere? How are ions transported and accelerated while in the magnetosphere?
  5. Do terrestrial-type substorms occur at Mercury? How do field-aligned currents close? To what extent and under what conditions are charged particles accelerated within the magnetosphere?

Notional Mercury Exosphere - Magnetosphere Coupling Workshop Sessions
MESSENGER – BepiColombo Workshop, Nov. 2-5, 2010

download the agenda (.pdf)

Welcome Presentation

Day 1 – Tuesday, November 2

  1. Magnetospheric Observations
    1. Planetary Magnetic Field Observations & Theory
      • Haje Korth, Magnetospheric Magnetic Field Observations and Modeling at Mercury 
      • Daniel Heyner , Analysis of Modeled Magnetospheric Current Systems of Mercury for Low Internal Dipole Fields and Various Solar Wind Pressures
      • Haje Korth , Mercury’s Magnetospheric Response to the Dynamics of the Space Environment
    2. Plasma & Energetic Particles Observations
  2. Exospheric Observations
    1. Ground Measurements
    2. Space-Based Measurements'

Day 2 – Wednesday, November 3

  1. Surface Interactions
    1. Photon Stimulated Desorption
    2. Sputtering and Backscattering
    3. Micrometeoroid Bombardment
    4. Chemistry and Space Weathering
    1. Dust and Surface Charging
  2. Exospheric Models and Processes
    1. Atmospheric Models

Day 3 – Thursday, November 4

  1. Plasma Processes
    1. K-H Boundary Waves
    2. Magnetic Reconnection
    3. Electrodynamic Interactions
    1. Wave Particle Interactions & ULF Waves
      • Toshi Nishimura , Direct Measurements of the Poynting Flux Associated with Convection Electric Fields
      • Scott Boardsen , Bursts of Narrow-Band Magnetospheric Waves near the He+ to H+ Cyclotron Frequencies Observed During MESSENGER’s Mercury Flybys
      • Vadim Uritsky , Understanding Multiscale Transients in Mercury's Plasma Environment under Northward IMF Condition: Data Analysis Tools and First Results
      • Scott Boardsen , Quasi-Periodic ~20–30-s Oscillations in Mercury’s Inner Magnetosphere During Steady Southward IMF
  2. Mercury Global Simulations
    1. MHD Simulations
    2. Hybrid Simulations
    3. Surface Precipitation & Sputtering Maps

Day 4 – Friday, November 5

  1. Summary
    1. Atmospheric Reporter
    2. Magnetospheric Reporter
    3. MESSENGER & BepiColombo Leadership Panel


  • Emmanuel Grotheer, HEMO – The Hermean Exosphere Model of Oxygen: A Comprehensive Model for Interpreting Data from the MESSENGER and BepiColombo Missions to Mercury
    view poster
  • Ariah Kidder, Reconnection Events and Sodium Morphology at Mercury
    view poster
  • Susan McKenna-Lawlor, Mercury’s Magnetosphere in Response to Elevated, Prolonged, Solar Activity in December, 2006: Hybrid Modeling Results
    view poster
  • Helen Middleton, BepiColombo - Hermean Environment Instrument Science Operation Planning
    view poster
  • Andrew Potter, Sodium Velocity Maps on Mercury
    view poster
  • Mea Simon Wedlund, Monte Carlo Modelling of Neutral Hydrogen in the Exosphere of Mercury

Additional Information

Our meeting concept is to hold a three-and-a-half-day workshop beginning on Tuesday, November 2, with seven half-day sessions on MESSENGER and BepiColombo Science Measurements and Mission Plans, the Key Questions and a final Summary Session and Discussion led by two “Exosphere and Magnetosphere Moderators” on the third morning. The workshop will conclude at noon on November 5.

Our goal is to have comprehensive presentations (invited and contributed) and to provide ample time for discussion.

Science Dinner

Red LionRed Lion Restaurant
Thursday, Nov. 4, 6:00 p.m.

Red Lion website

There will be a special dinner for all attendees and their guests at the historic Red Lion Restaurant. Originally built and established in 1870, the historic restaurant now provides a cozy setting where rustic elegance is combined with extraordinary cuisine.

Tickets:  $40.  Reservations are required – Please sign up and pay for this event on the Registration Form. Everyone is encouraged to attend and guests are welcome. Ticket price include appetizers, entrée, accompaniments, dessert, gratuity and tax.

After an interesting day of talks, please join us to continue the discussions!


Call For Abstracts

The agenda for this interactive meeting consists of invited and contributed oral and poster presentations. Please submit all abstracts by August 27, 2010, to Vanessa George via email ( Please limit your abstract to 250 words, include your contact information, affiliation, what session you would like to be included in, and whether you prefer an oral or poster presentation.  The final program will be determined by Septembr 10, and speakers will be notified at that time.

Exploring Ma