Low-Energy Hot Plasma and Particles in Saturn's Magnetosphere

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Science  29 Jan 1982:
Vol. 215, Issue 4532, pp. 571-577
DOI: 10.1126/science.215.4532.571


The low-energy charged particle instrument on Voyager 2 measured low-energy electrons and ions (energies22 and28 kiloelectron volts, respectively) in Saturn's magnetosphere. The magnetosphere structure and particle population were modified from those observed during the Voyager 1 encounter in November 1980 but in a manner consistent with the same global morphology. Major results include the following. (i) A region containing an extremely hot (30 to 50 kiloelectron volts) plasma was identified and extends from the orbit of Tethys outward past the orbit of Rhea. (ii) The low-energy ion mantle found by Voyager 1 to extend7 Saturn radii inside the dayside magnetosphere was again observed on Voyager 2, but it was considerably hotter (30 kiloelectron volts), and there was an indication of a cooler ( < 20 kiloelectron volts) ion mantle on the nightside. (iii) At energies200 kiloelectron volts per nucleon, H1, H2, and H3 (molecular hydrogen), helium, carbon, and oxygen are important constituents in the Saturnian magnetosphere. The presence of both H2 and H3 suggests that the Saturnian ionosphere feeds plasma into the magnetosphere, but relative abundances of the energetic helium, carbon, and oxygen ions are consistent with a solar wind origin. (iv) Low-energy (22 to60 kiloelectron volts) electron flux enhancements observed between the L shells of Rhea and Tethys by Voyager 2 on the dayside were absent during the Voyager 1 encounter. (v) Persistent asymmetric pitch-angle distributions of electrons of 60 to 200 kiloelectron volts occur in the outer magnetosphere in conjunction with the hot ion plasma torus. (vi) The spacecraft passed within1.1° in longitude of the Tethys flux tube outbound and observed it to be empty of energetic ions and electrons; the microsignature of Enceladus inbound was also observed. (vii) There are large fluxes of electrons of1.5 million electron volts and smaller fluxes of electrons of10 million electron volts and of protons54 million electron volts inside the orbits of Enceladus and Mimas; all were sharply peaked perpendicular to the local magnetic field. (viii) In general, observed satellite absorption signatures were not located at positions predicted on the basis of dipole magnetic field models.

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