Special Viewpoints

Saturn's Variable Magnetosphere

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Science  25 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5713, pp. 1224-1226
DOI: 10.1126/science.1108226

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Abstract

Since the Cassini spacecraft reached Saturn's orbit in 2004, its instruments have been sending back a wealth of data on the planet's magnetosphere (the region dominated by the magnetic field of the planet). In this Viewpoint, we discuss some of these results, which are reported in a collection of reports in this issue. The magnetosphere is shown to be highly variable and influenced by the planet's rotation, sources of plasma within the planetary system, and the solar wind. New insights are also gained into the chemical composition of the magnetosphere, with surprising results. These early results from Cassini's first orbit around Saturn bode well for the future as the spacecraft continues to orbit the planet.

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