Saturn's Magnetosphere, Rings, and Inner Satellites

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Science  25 Jan 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4429, pp. 415-421
DOI: 10.1126/science.207.4429.415


Our 31 August to 5 September 1979 observations together with those of the other Pioneer 11 investigators provide the first credible discovery of the magnetosphere of Saturn and many detailed characteristics thereof. In physical dimensions and energetic charged particle population, Saturn's magnetosphere is intermediate between those of Earth and Jupiter. In terms of planetary radii, the scale of Saturn's magnetosphere more nearly resembles that of Earth and there is much less inflation by entrapped plasma than in the case at Jupiter. The orbit of Titan lies in the outer fringes of the magnetosphere. Particle angular distributions on the inbound leg of the trajectory (sunward side) have a complex pattern but are everywhere consistent with a dipolar magnetic field approximately perpendicular to the planet's equator. On the outbound leg (dawnside) there are marked departures from this situation outside of 7 Saturn radii (Rs), suggesting an equatorial current sheet having both longitudinal and radial components. The particulate rings and inner satellites have a profound effect on the distribution of energetic particles. We find (i) clear absorption signatures of Dione and Mimas; (ii) a broad absorption region encompassing the orbital radii of Tethys and Enceladus but probably attributable, at least in part, to plasma physical effects; (iii) no evidence for Janus (1966 S 1) (S 10) at or near 2.66 Rs; (iv) a satellite of diameter ≳ 170 kilometers at 2.534 Rs (1979 S 2), probably the same object as that detected optically by Pioneer 11 (1979 S 1) and previously by groundbased telescopes (1966 S 2) (S 11); (v) a satellite of comparable diameter at 2.343 Rs (1979 S 5); (vi) confirmation of the F ring between 2.336 and 2.371 Rs; (vii) confirmation of the Pioneer division between 2.292 and 2.336 Rs; (viii) a suspected satellite at 2.82 Rs (1979 S 3); (ix) no clear evidence for the E ring though its influence may be obscured by stronger effects; and (x) the outer radius of the A ring at 2.292 Rs. Inside of 2.292 Rs there is a virtually total absence of magnetospheric particles and a marked reduction in cosmic-ray intensity. All distances are in units of the adopted equatorial radius of Saturn, 60,000 kilometers.