Plasma-surface interactions in the Solar System: Mercury-Ganymede-Europa comparison

Author: Anna Milillo
Affiliation: INAF/IAPS, Rome


The evolution of the surfaces of bodies unprotected by either strong magnetic fields or thick atmospheres in the Solar System is caused by various processes, induced by photons, energetic ions and micrometeoroids. Among these processes, the continuous bombardment of the solar wind or energetic magnetospheric ions onto the bodies may significantly affect their surfaces producing particle release and chemical alteration, with implications for their evolution. Two bodies in the solar System of particular interest for their extreme environments are Mercury, in close vicinity to the Sun, and Ganymede, in the Jupiter’s radiation belts. These two bodies, both characterized by a weak internal magnetic field and a harsh plasma environment, offer a nice opportunity of comparative investigation. The comparison between the other Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and Ganymede is also important for evaluating the role of the internal magnetic field in the body evolutions.