Saturn's Gravitational Field, Internal Rotation, and Interior Structure

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Science  07 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5843, pp. 1384-1387
DOI: 10.1126/science.1144835

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Saturn's internal rotation period is unknown, though it must be less than 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 22 seconds, as derived from magnetic field plus kilometric radiation data. By using the Cassini spacecraft's gravitational data, along with Pioneer and Voyager radio occultation and wind data, we obtain a rotation period of 10 hours, 32 minutes, and 35 ± 13 seconds. This more rapid spin implies slower equatorial wind speeds on Saturn than previously assumed, and the winds at higher latitudes flow both east and west, as on Jupiter. Our related Saturn interior model has a molecular-to-metallic hydrogen transition about halfway to the planet's center.

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