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Radial and local time structure of the Saturnian ring current, revealed by Cassini

Radial and local time structure of the Saturnian ring current, revealed by Cassini
Radial and local time structure of the Saturnian ring current, revealed by Cassini
We analyze particle and magnetic field data obtained between July 2004 and December 2013 in the equatorial magnetosphere of Saturn, by the Cassini spacecraft. The radial and local time distribution of the total (thermal and suprathermal) particle pressure and total plasma beta (ratio of particle to magnetic pressure) over radial distances from 5 to 16 Saturn radii (RS = 60,258 km) is presented. The average azimuthal current density Jϕ and its separate components (inertial, pressure gradient, and anisotropy) are computed as a function of radial distance and local time and presented as equatorial maps. We explore the relative contribution of different physical mechanisms that drive the ring current at Saturn. Results show that (a) the particle pressure is controlled by thermal plasma inside of ~8 RS and by the hot ions beyond ~12 RS, exhibiting strong local time asymmetry with higher pressures measured at the dusk and night sectors; (b) the plasma beta increases with radial distance and remains >1 beyond 8–10 RS for all local times; (c) the ring current is asymmetric in local time and forms a maximum region between ~7 and ~13 RS, with values up to 100–115 pA/m2; and (d) the ring current is inertial everywhere inside of 7 RS, exhibits a mixed nature between 7 and 11 RS and is pressure gradient driven beyond 11 RS, with the exception of the noon sector where the mixed nature persists. In the dawn sector, it appears strongly pressure gradient driven for a wider range of radial distance, consistent with fast return flow of hot, tenuous magnetospheric plasma following tail reconnection.
ring current, Saturn
2169-9380
1803-1815
Sergis, N.
4f763399-5901-4bdc-9bc7-2a57140a9f80
Jackman, C.M.
9bc3456c-b254-48f1-ade0-912c5b8b4529
Thomsen, M.F.
81992bfc-27a7-42f3-9e36-571ce61228a6
Krimigis, S.M.
6fc8b68e-aee4-4088-b506-1c36004c78a0
Mitchell, D.G.
5fcb9c91-8cd4-4dc3-9faa-77eedd0c6a07
Hamilton, D.C.
86f1fe89-bd97-43bf-bb02-f8758ae56dad
Dougherty, M.K.
cee6bbc9-de23-47c1-9c04-7748cd160aaf
Krupp, N.
388f700a-7583-4b21-b358-27b51bc6317a
Wilson, R.J.
29353e8b-14e8-46b9-b5f0-91838ba7fc30
Sergis, N.
4f763399-5901-4bdc-9bc7-2a57140a9f80
Jackman, C.M.
9bc3456c-b254-48f1-ade0-912c5b8b4529
Thomsen, M.F.
81992bfc-27a7-42f3-9e36-571ce61228a6
Krimigis, S.M.
6fc8b68e-aee4-4088-b506-1c36004c78a0
Mitchell, D.G.
5fcb9c91-8cd4-4dc3-9faa-77eedd0c6a07
Hamilton, D.C.
86f1fe89-bd97-43bf-bb02-f8758ae56dad
Dougherty, M.K.
cee6bbc9-de23-47c1-9c04-7748cd160aaf
Krupp, N.
388f700a-7583-4b21-b358-27b51bc6317a
Wilson, R.J.
29353e8b-14e8-46b9-b5f0-91838ba7fc30

Sergis, N., Jackman, C.M., Thomsen, M.F., Krimigis, S.M., Mitchell, D.G., Hamilton, D.C., Dougherty, M.K., Krupp, N. and Wilson, R.J. (2017) Radial and local time structure of the Saturnian ring current, revealed by Cassini. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 122 (2), 1803-1815. (doi:10.1002/2016JA023742).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We analyze particle and magnetic field data obtained between July 2004 and December 2013 in the equatorial magnetosphere of Saturn, by the Cassini spacecraft. The radial and local time distribution of the total (thermal and suprathermal) particle pressure and total plasma beta (ratio of particle to magnetic pressure) over radial distances from 5 to 16 Saturn radii (RS = 60,258 km) is presented. The average azimuthal current density Jϕ and its separate components (inertial, pressure gradient, and anisotropy) are computed as a function of radial distance and local time and presented as equatorial maps. We explore the relative contribution of different physical mechanisms that drive the ring current at Saturn. Results show that (a) the particle pressure is controlled by thermal plasma inside of ~8 RS and by the hot ions beyond ~12 RS, exhibiting strong local time asymmetry with higher pressures measured at the dusk and night sectors; (b) the plasma beta increases with radial distance and remains >1 beyond 8–10 RS for all local times; (c) the ring current is asymmetric in local time and forms a maximum region between ~7 and ~13 RS, with values up to 100–115 pA/m2; and (d) the ring current is inertial everywhere inside of 7 RS, exhibits a mixed nature between 7 and 11 RS and is pressure gradient driven beyond 11 RS, with the exception of the noon sector where the mixed nature persists. In the dawn sector, it appears strongly pressure gradient driven for a wider range of radial distance, consistent with fast return flow of hot, tenuous magnetospheric plasma following tail reconnection.

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Radial and Local time structure of the Saturnian Ring Current, revealed by Cassini - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 31 January 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 February 2017
Published date: 1 February 2017
Keywords: ring current, Saturn

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 412942
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/412942
ISSN: 2169-9380
PURE UUID: f716c80c-059e-4514-9405-366d10d333a0
ORCID for C.M. Jackman: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0635-7361

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Date deposited: 09 Aug 2017 16:31
Last modified: 30 Jan 2020 01:39

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