MERCURY In-flight calibration of the PHEBUS UV instrument and Monte Carlo modelling of the hydrogen exosphere

Mea Simon Wedlund 1
1 HEPPI - LATMOS
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : A unique feature of Mercury's space environment is its strongly coupled surface-exosphere-magnetosphere-solar wind system, which can be remotely monitored by space missions such as Mariner 10, MESSENGER and soon BepiColombo and by ground-based observatories. Mercury's exosphere is a very complex medium with only a few species detected so far, including atomic hydrogen. H has only been detected once by Mariner 10 in 1974-1975 and represents a tracer of the interaction between the solar wind and Mercury. The PHEBUS instrument onboard the BepiColombo ESA/JAXA mission to Mercury is a dual-channel EUV-FUV spectrometer capable of detecting faint emissions including H I Lyman- at 121.6 nm. The first part of this thesis focuses on the radiometric modelling and simulation of the optical return of PHEBUS. To prepare for in-flight and orbit spectral calibrations, a set of reference stars is determined and evaluated to match the resolution and spectral range of the detector. Predictions on the possibility of detection of a wide range of emission lines in space and in Mercury's exosphere are given (science performance). PHEBUS is based on SPICAV, the UV spectrometer onboard Venus Express and can use similar techniques to perform the relevant calibrations. Therefore, a study of the star occultation events of SPICAV is performed in the second part of this thesis. The stars' spectra are extracted, analysed and convoluted with the instrument function for possibility of future use with PHEBUS. The results are stored in the calibration database for the "Cross-calibration of past FUV experiments" workgroup of ISSI. In parallel to the development of new dedicated instruments, such as PHEBUS with high sensitivity and spectral resolution, state-of-the-art simulations of the exosphere of Mercury are also needed. In the third part of this thesis the 3D Monte Carlo hydrogen model SPERO is constructed. SPERO is the first fully consistent 3D exospheric model of hydrogen at Mercury, taking into account source and loss mechanisms such as thermal desorption, photoionisation and solar radiation pressure. Thermal desorption is assumed to be the dominant source of exospheric hydrogen. Surface densities as well as exospheric densities, temperatures and velocities are computed up to 8 Mercury radii. A sensitivity study is carried out highlighting the uncertainties in the source and loss mechanisms, and resulting in a day/night density and temperature asymmetry. Using the computed densities in a radiative transfer model makes it possible to compare with the Mariner 10 Lyman- emission data and later on possibly the hydrogen data return of the MASCS instrument onboard NASA MESSENGER.
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Mea Simon Wedlund. MERCURY In-flight calibration of the PHEBUS UV instrument and Monte Carlo modelling of the hydrogen exosphere. Planetology. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2011. English. ⟨NNT : 2011PA066114⟩. ⟨tel-00667491⟩

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