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: NASA's reliance on outsourcing launches causes a dilemma for the space agency

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

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

Crash test assesses plane emergency locator transmitters

Jul 03, 2015

The Cessna 172 airplane dangled 82 feet in the air – looking almost like it was coming in for a landing, except for the cables attaching it to a huge gantry at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, ...

NASA image: Curiosity's stars and stripes

Jul 03, 2015

This view of the American flag medallion on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 44th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.