Saturn from Cassini-Huygens

pp 333-374

Auroral Processes

  • W. S. KurthAffiliated withDepartment Physics and Astronomy, The University of Iowa Email author 
  • , E. J. BunceAffiliated withDepartment Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester
  • , J. T. ClarkeAffiliated withCenter for Space Physics, Boston University
  • , F. J. CraryAffiliated withSouthwest Research Institute
  • , D. C. GrodentAffiliated withLPAP, Université de Liège, B-4000
  • , A. P. IngersollAffiliated withCaltech
  • , U. A. DyudinaAffiliated withCaltech
  • , L. LamyAffiliated withLESIA
  • , D. G. MitchellAffiliated withApplied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University
    • , A. M. PersoonAffiliated withDepartment Physics and Astronomy, The University of Iowa
    • , W. R. PryorAffiliated withDept. Physics, Central Arizona College
    • , J. SaurAffiliated withInstitute of Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne
    • , T. StallardAffiliated withDepartment Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester

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Cassini has afforded a number of unique opportunities to understand auroral processes at Saturn and to highlight both differences and similarities with auroral physics at both Earth and Jupiter. A number of campaigns were coordinated with the Hubble Space Telescope such that Cassini could provide either ground truth on the impinging solar wind or in situ measurements of magnetospheric conditions leading to qualitative and sometimes quantitative relationships between the solar wind influence on the intensity, the morphology and evolution of the auroras, and magneto-spheric dynamics. The Hubble UV images are enhanced by Cassini's own remote sensing of the auroras. Cassini's in situ studies of the structure and dynamics of the magnetosphere discussed in other chapters of this book provide the context for understanding the primary drivers of Saturn's auroras and the role of magnetospheric dynamics in their variations. Finally, Cassini's three dimensional prime mission survey of the magnetosphere culminates in high inclination orbits placing it at relatively small radial distances while on auroral field lines, providing the first such in situ observations of auroral particles and fields at a planet other than Earth. The new observations have spawned a number of efforts to model the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetosphere and understand how such dynamics influence the auroras.