Magnetic Field Studies at Jupiter by Voyager 2: Preliminary Results

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Science  23 Nov 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4421, pp. 966-972
DOI: 10.1126/science.206.4421.966


Data from the Goddard Space Flight Center magnetometers on Voyager 2 have yielded on inbound trajectory observations of multiple crossings of the bow shock and magnetosphere near the Jupiter-sun line at radial distances of 99 to 66 Jupiter radii (RJ) and 72 to 62 RJ, respectively. While outbound at a local hour angle of 0300, these distances increase appreciably so that at the time of writing only the magnetopause has been observed between 160 and 185 RJ. These results and the magnetic field geometry confirm the earlier conclusion from Voyager I studies that Jupiter has an enormous magnetic tail, approximately 300 to 400 RJ in diameter, trailing behind the planet with respect to the supersonic flow of the solar wind. Addi- tional observations of the distortion of the inner magnetosphere by a concentrated plasma show a spatial merging of the equatorial magnetodisk current with the cur- rent sheet in the magnetic tail. The spacecraft passed within 62,000 kilometers of Ganymede (radius = 2,635 kilometers) and observed characteristic fluctuations in- terpreted tentatively as being due to disturbances arising from the interaction of the Jovian magnetosphere with Ganymede.