36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 39 Mercury, Moon, and Venus
Poster II, Thursday, November 11, 2004, 4:15-7:00pm, Exhibition Hall 1A

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[39.07] Measurement strategies for the characterization of Mercury's sodium exosphere during the MESSENGER mission

E. T. Bradley, W. E. McClintock (LASP, University of Colorado), R. M. Killen (University of Maryland)

The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched on August 3, 2004 and will arrive in orbit around Mercury in 2011. On board the MESSENGER is the Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) that will study Mercury's surface bounded exosphere. We have used a model of the sodium exosphere developed by Killen to examine measurement strategies for MASCS. We converted model zenith column abundances to radiance values for limb scans. We then used spacecraft observational geometries and instrument characteristics in conjunction with the radiance values to predict signal and SNR values that will be observed by MASCS during the orbital phase of the mission. We will discuss the degree to which MASCS will be able to identify the source and loss processes that control Mercury's sodium exosphere.

Funding for this work is supported by the Carnegie Institution of Washington and NASA.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: bradleet@colorado.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.