QUOTE (nprev @ Mar 8 2010, 01:17 AM)
That's an older presentation, though, Steve...apparently pre-Cassini arrival, at least. I think that the jury's still out re Hermian aurorae.
MESSENGER's already detected an extremely tenuous sodium atmosphere (think there was some oxygen, too), so I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there's a bit of activity happening given the strong magnetic field & even stronger solar wind. Dunno if MESSENGER's capable of detecting it, though.
I spotted a paper online somewhere where it was mentioned that the Hermian magnetic field is about 1% of Earth's. However the interaction with a stronger solar wind is supposed to make magnetic reconnection events about 10 times more frequent than Earth's, so this might help make aurorae more spectacular.
Given the aurorae we've seen by spacecraft at places like Jupiter, Saturn, and Io, (plus Earth orbiters) it would be interesting if Mercury could be added to the list with the help of its spacecraft visitor.