Cassini mission provides insight into Saturn

December 1, 2015
Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

Scientists have found the first direct evidence for explosive releases of energy in Saturn's magnetic bubble using data from the Cassini spacecraft, a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. The research is reported in the journal Nature Physics.

These "explosions" are produced in a process known as , something well studied at Earth and is an important part of Space Weather, involved in energising the radiation belts and producing displays of the Northern lights.

Space Physicists led by Lancaster University used data to show that Cassini had passed through the region at Saturn where magnetic reconnection was occurring, which has never before been observed.

One of the mysteries this gives us clues to answering is how Saturn's magnetic bubble, known as its magnetosphere, gets rid of gas from Saturn's tiny icy moon Enceladus. Through jets at its south pole, this tiny 500 km-sized moon ejects around 100 kg of water into space every second.

Dr Chris Arridge, lead author of the study, said: "Water from the Enceladus plume is trapped in Saturn's magnetosphere. We know it can't just stay there for ever and until now we have not been able to work out how it has been ejected from the magnetosphere."

Previous work has suggested that magnetic reconnection cannot allow all enough plasma to escape from the magnetosphere. The results show that this is indeed possible.

These results are also important for understanding Jupiter's , where similar processes occur, and may also be relevant for other rapidly spinning astrophysical systems, such as young stars.

Explore further: Cassini data shows Saturn moon may affect planet's magnetosphere

More information: C. S. Arridge et al. Cassini in situ observations of long-duration magnetic reconnection in Saturn's magnetotail, Nature Physics (2015). DOI: 10.1038/nphys3565

Related Stories

Plasma loss mechanisms from Saturn's magnetosphere

December 4, 2013

Since the first up-close observations of Saturn, made by the Pioneer 11 probe in 1979, a great deal has been learned about the dynamics of the gas giant's magnetosphere. In-depth observations made by the Cassini orbiter, ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

8 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Gimp
not rated yet Dec 01, 2015
Starting to wonder about this site, honestly, who proof read this before committing to posting?
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2015
You should be questioning the claims rather than the spelling.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2015
"Magnetic reconnection is (as always) pseudoscience." Hannes Alfven
jonesdave
5 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2015
"Magnetic reconnection is (as always) pseudoscience." Hannes Alfven


Except it is now an accepted part of physics. Tough sh*t. Alvfen got a Nobel prize for MHD. He also got a lot of sh*t wrong. End of. Just like Perratt.
Perhaps you'd like to spell out out the successful claims of the scientifically illiterate EU hypothesis, so far. Start with the electric comet b*llocks. How's that going?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
yep
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2015
"Magnetic reconnection is (as always) pseudoscience." Hannes Alfven

Except it is now an accepted part of physics. Tough sh*t. Alvfen got a Nobel prize for MHD. He also got a lot of sh*t wrong. End of. Just like Perratt.
Perhaps you'd like to spell out out the successful claims of the scientifically illiterate EU hypothesis, so far. Start with the electric comet b*llocks. How's that going?
Looking forward to hearing from you.


It's going quite well, thanks for asking!
http://www.aanda....-15.html
If you never get anything wrong you'll never get anything right either.
In your case, it's the more data that comes in, the more wrong you become.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2015
If you never get anything wrong you'll never get anything right either.

Um..whut?

Sounds like one of Murphy's laws (Conservation of Filth) "To get something clean you have to get something else dirty"*

*Corollary: But you can get everything dirty without getting anything clean. (Read: Just becuse you get some things wrong doesn't automatically mean you'll ever get anything right)
yep
1 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2015
Um..whut?


If you read Jonesdave's comment?

We can always count on you Antialias "Get your facts first then you can distort them as much as you please" Twain
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (2) Dec 05, 2015
"Magnetic reconnection is (as always) pseudoscience." Hannes Alfven


Except it is now an accepted part of physics. Tough sh*t. Alvfen got a Nobel prize for MHD. He also got a lot of sh*t wrong. End of. Just like Perratt.
Perhaps you'd like to spell out out the successful claims of the scientifically illiterate EU hypothesis, so far. Start with the electric comet b*llocks. How's that going?
Looking forward to hearing from you.

As yep said, it's going quite well.

https://www.youtu...cGTerTfw

https://www.youtu...i33LYaRU

https://www.youtu...APdMa9a4

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.