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MESSENGER and Venus Express Observations of the Solar Wind Interaction with Venus: A Dual Spacecraft Study

By James A. Slavin, Jr. R. L. McNutt, S. C. Solomon, H. Korth, G. Gloeckler, M. Sarantos, M. Fraenz, S. Barabash, B. J. Anderson, T. Zhang, S. A. Boardsen, S. M. Krimigis, R. E. Gold, J. M. Raines, T. H. Zurbuchen, M. H. Acuna, M. Benna and G. C. Ho


At 23:08 UT on 5 June 2007 the MESSENGER spacecraft reached its closest approach altitude (338 krn) during its second flyby of Venus en route to its 201 1 orbit insertion at Mercury. Whereas no measurements were collected during MESSENGER'S first Venus flyby in October 2006, the Magnetometer (MAG) and the Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) operated successfully throughout this second encounter. Venus provides the solar system's best example to date of a solar wind - ionosphere planetary interaction. Pioneer Venus Orbiter measurements have shown that this interaction affects the upper atmosphere and ionosphere down to altitudes of - 150 km. Here we present an initial overview of the MESSENGER observations during the - 4 hrs that the spacecraft spent within 10 planet radii of Venus and, together with Venus Express measurements, examine the influence of solar wind plasma and interplanetary magnetic field conditions on the solar wind interaction at solar minimum

Topics: Solar Physics
Year: 2007
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