PHEBUS: A double ultraviolet spectrometer to observe Mercury's exosphere

E. Chassefière, J. -L. Maria, J.-P. Goutail, E. Quémerais, F. Leblanc, S. Okano, I. Yoshikawa, O. Korablev, V. Gnedykh, G. Naletto, P. Nicolosi, M.-G. Pelizzo, J.-J. Correia, S. Gallet, C. Hourtoule, P.-O. Mine, C. Montaron, N. Rouanet, J.-B. Rigal, G. MuramakiK. Yoshioka, O. Kozlov, V. Kottsov, P. Moisseev, N. Semena, J.-L. Bertaux, M.-Th. Capria, J. Clarke, G. Cremonese, D. Delcourt, A. Doressoundiram, S. Erard, R. Gladstone, M. Grande, D. Hunten, W. Ip, V. Izmodenov, A. Jambon, R. Johnson, E. Kallio, R. Killen, R. Lallement, J. Luhmann, M. Mendillo, A. Milillo, H. Palme, A. Potter, S. Sasaki, D. Slater, A. Sprague, A. Stern, N. Yan

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Probing of Hermean exosphere by ultraviolet spectroscopy (PHEBUS) is a double spectrometer for the Extreme Ultraviolet range (55–155 nm) and the Far Ultraviolet range (145–315 nm) devoted to the characterization of Mercury's exosphere composition and dynamics, and surface–exosphere connections. This French-led instrument is implemented in a cooperative scheme involving Japan (detectors), Russia (scanner) and Italy (ground calibration). PHEBUS will address the following main scientific objectives relative to Mercury's exosphere: determination of the composition and the vertical structure of the exosphere; characterization of the exospheric dynamics: day to night circulation, transport between active and inactive regions; study of surface release processes; identification and characterization of the sources of exospheric constituents; detection and characterization of ionized species and their relation with the neutral atmosphere; space and time monitoring of exosphere/magnetosphere exchange and transport processes; study and quantification of escape, global scale source/sink balance and geochemical cycles synergistically with other experiments of BepiColombo (Mercury Sodium Atmospheric Spectral Imager (MSASI), Mercury Plasma Particle Experiment (MPPE) on Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO); Mercury imaging X-ray spectrometer (MIXS), Search for exosphere refilling and emitted neutral abundance (SERENA) on Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO)). Two gratings and two detectors are used according to a specific, compact design. The spectrum detection is based on the photon counting method and is realized using micro-channel plate (MCP) detectors with Resistive Anode Encoder (RAE). Typical photocathodes are CsI or KBr for the extreme ultra-violet (EUV) range, CsTe for the far ultra-violet (FUV) range. Extra visible lines are monitored using a photo-multiplier (PM) that is also used in photon counting mode. In order to prevent sensitivity losses which are critical in UV ranges, a minimum of reflections is achieved inside the instrument using only an off-axis parabola and a set of holographic gratings. A one degree-of-freedom scanning system allows to probe, at the highest possible signal-to-noise ratio, selected regions and altitude ranges of interest. Different modes of observation will be used sequentially (vertical scans, along-orbit scans, grazing observations at twilight, etc.). During the mission, the instrument will be regularly calibrated on well chosen stars, in such a way to quantitatively estimate the overall degradation of the sensitivity of the instrument.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-223
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1-2
Early online date11 Jun 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • mercury
  • exosphere
  • ultraviolet
  • spectroscopy
  • bepicolombo


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