Cassini data shows Saturn moon may affect planet's magnetosphere

Dec 31, 2011
Enceladus

Scientists have been puzzled by periodic bursts of radiation, known as the Saturn kilometric radiation (SKR), that occur in the planet's magnetosphere. These emissions occur at a rate that is close to, but not quite the same as, the rate at which the planet rotates.

New observations from the Cassini spacecraft's flybys of Saturn's in 2008 are revealing new details about the plasma environment around Enceladus and how it may affect Saturn's magnetosphere. These observations could also shed some light on the SKR rotation rate.

Enceladus sprays out a plume of and ice from its south pole. This plume produces ionized gas that is a significant source of plasma for Saturn's magnetosphere and E ring.

Observations described by Morooka et al. show that the plume also produces negatively charged dust that affects the motion of the plasma in this region. This dust-plasma interaction impacts the dynamics of Saturn's magnetosphere, possibly influencing the rate of SKR emissions.

Explore further: Wake up, robot

More information: “Dusty plasma in the vicinity of Enceladus” Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics, doi:10.1029/2011JA017038 , 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Enceladus leaves plasma bubbles in its wake

Apr 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Observations of how Saturn’s moon Enceladus interacts with its environment show it leaves a complex pattern of ripples and bubbles in its wake. Sheila Kanani will be presenting the results ...

Saturn's Giant Sponge

Feb 06, 2008

One of Saturn's rings does housecleaning, soaking up material gushing from the fountains on Saturn's tiny ice moon Enceladus, according to new observations from the Cassini spacecraft.

Recommended for you

Wake up, robot

57 minutes ago

Code, play and command your space droid – students across Europe can bring a squadron of minisatellites to life on the International Space Station as the ultimate space robot game.

Image: Messy peaks of Zucchius

22 hours ago

Even to the naked eye, our Moon looks heavily cratered. The snippet of carved and pitted lunar surface shown in this image lies within a 66 km-wide crater known as Zucchius. From our perspective, Zucchius ...

User comments : 0