Opportunities for X-ray remote sensing at Mercury

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553-1559
Number of pages7
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number14-15
Early online date19 Nov 2001
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2001
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Mercury is the little known innermost terrestrial planet. A number of significant questions remain unanswered. We describe areas in which a compact imaging X-ray spectrometer could make a valuable contribution. It can provide high quality spectroscopic analysis of Mercury, using the fluorescence technique. A solar monitor is required to provide the calibration of the illumination necessary to produce a global map of absolute Hermean elemental abundances. In the case of Mercury studies of the surface and the magnetosphere form a single linked problem. The intense level of the radiation observed by Mariner 10 suggests that the auroral zone, where the energetic radiation interacts with the surface, is a potential intense source of X-rays. We estimate the fluxes. The solar wind may also contribute to X-ray generation, if it can reach the surface during highly excited periods. We describe briefly the instrument characteristics that could produce these observations.