Saturn's Magnetic Field and Magnetosphere

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Science  25 Jan 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4429, pp. 407-410
DOI: 10.1126/science.207.4429.407


The Pioneer Saturn vector helium magnetometer has detected a bow shock and magnetopause at Saturn and has provided an accurate characterization of the planetary field. The equatorial surface field is 0.20 gauss, a factor of 3 to 5 times smaller than anticipated on the basis of attempted scalings from Earth and Jupiter. The tilt angle between the magnetic dipole axis and Saturn's rotation axis is < 1°, a surprisingly small value. Spherical harmonic analysis of the measurements shows that the ratio of quadrupole to dipole moments is < 10 percent, indicating that the field is more uniform than those of the Earth or Jupiter and consistent with Saturn having a relatively small core. The field in the outer magnetosphere shows systematic departures from the dipole field, principally a compression of the field near noon and an equatorial orientation associated with a current sheet near dawn. A hydromagnetic wake resulting from the interaction of Titan with the rotating magnetosphere appears to have been observed.