SPACE AND COSMIC RAY PHYSICS SEMINAR

University of Maryland
Atlantic Building, Room 2400
4:30 PM Monday, November 25, 2013
Coffee, Tea & Snacks 4:15-4:30 PM

Brian Anderson
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Lessons from our Innermost Planet:Mercury's Magnetosphere and Magnetic Field

The intensity of Mercury's surface magnetic field is only 1% that of Earth's so the planetary body occupies a huge fraction of the magnetosphere at Mercury. Moreover, there is no conducting ionosphere at Mercury so the interaction between the solar wind and planetary magnetic field is markedly different than at Earth. The MESSENGER Discovery mission has provided a wealth of data from its over 30 months of orbital observations revealing intense magnetic reconnection, plasma precipitation to the surface, an enigmatically simple planetary offset dipolar field, and the presence of field-aligned Birkeland currents. The stark differences from Earth's magnetosphere provide important tests of our understanding of magnetosphere dynamics and solar wind interactions.