Special Perspectives

Does Enceladus Govern Magnetospheric Dynamics at Saturn?

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Science  10 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5766, pp. 1391-1392
DOI: 10.1126/science.1124494

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Instruments on the Cassini spacecraft reveal that a heat source within Saturn's moon Enceladus powers a great plume of water ice particles and dust grains, a geyser that jets outward from the south polar regions and most likely serves as the dominant source of Saturn's E ring. The interaction of flowing magnetospheric plasma with the plume modifies the particle and field environment of Enceladus. The structure of Saturn's magnetosphere, the extended region of space threaded by magnetic-field lines linked to the planet, is shaped by the ion source at Enceladus, and magnetospheric dynamics may be affected by the rate at which fresh ions are created.

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