Science Seminars

Insights into Mercury’s exosphere: Exploring in-orbit observations of Mercury’s exosphere from LASP’s Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer

Speaker: Aimee Merkel (LASP)
Date: Thursday, Mar 08, 2018
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

The Ultraviolet and Visible (UVVS) channel of the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) instrument onboard the MESSENGER spacecraft provided the first opportunity to probe and characterize Mercury’s exosphere from Mercury’s orbit. MESSENGER launched in August 2004, spent over a decade in space, including four years orbiting around Mercury until it crashed into the planet on April 30th, 2015. The UVVS channel of the MASCS instrument (a rendition of LASP’s high heritage UV spectrometer that also flew on Mariner, Pioneer Venus and Galileo) measured emission from exospheric species on a near daily cadence for slightly more than four Earth years (~17 Mercury years). This high quality dataset has provided new insights into the exospheric composition, spatial and temporal distributions, and main production mechanisms that source the exosphere. In this talk I will give an overview of the UVVS observations, discuss data retrieval challenges, and highlight the scientific discoveries revealed from this unique dataset.