Low-Energy Charged Particles in Saturn's Magnetosphere: Results from Voyager 1

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Science  10 Apr 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4491, pp. 225-231
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4491.225


The low-energy charged particle instrument on Voyager 1 measured low-energy electrons and ions (energies26 and40 kiloelectron volts, respectively) in Saturn's magnetosphere. The first-order ion anisotropies on the dayside are generally in the corotation direction with the amplitude decreasing with decreasing distance to the planet. The ion pitch-angle distributions generally peak at 90°, whereas the electron distributions tend to have field-aligned bidirectional maxima outside the L shell of Rhea. A large decrease in particle fluxes is seen near the L shell of Titan, while selective particle absorption (least affecting the lowest energy ions) is observed at the L shells of Rhea, Dione, and Tethys. The phase space density of ions with values of the first invariant in the range300 to 1000 million electron volts per gauss is consistent with a source in the outer magnetosphere. The ion population at higher energies (200 kiloelectron volts per nucleon) consists primarily of protons, molecular hydrogen, and helium. Spectra of all ion species exhibit an energy cutoff at energies2 million electron volts. The proton-to-helium ratio at equal energy per nucleon is larger (up to5 x 103) than seen in other magnetospheres and is consistent with a local (nonsolar wind) proton source. In contrast to the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Earth, there are no lobe regions essentially devoid of particles in Saturn's nighttime magnetosphere. Electron pitch-angle distributions are generally bidirectional andfield-aligned, indicating closed field lines at high latitudes. Ions in this region are generally moving toward Saturn, while in the magnetosheath they exhibit strong antisunward streaming which is inconsistent with purely convective flows. Fluxes of magnetospheric ions downstream from the bow shock are present over distances200 Saturn radii from the planet. Novel features identified in the Saturnian magnetosphere include a mantle of low-energy particles extending inward from the dayside magnetopause to17 Saturn radii, at least two intensity dropouts occurring11 hours apart in the nighttime magnetosphere, and a pervasive population of energetic molecular hydrogen.

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