Space Science Reviews

, Volume 164, Issue 1–4, pp 1–83 | Cite as

Mapping Magnetospheric Equatorial Regions at Saturn from Cassini Prime Mission Observations

  • C. S. Arridge
  • N. André
  • H. J. McAndrews
  • E. J. Bunce
  • M. H. Burger
  • K. C. Hansen
  • H.-W. Hsu
  • R. E. Johnson
  • G. H. Jones
  • S. Kempf
  • K. K. Khurana
  • N. Krupp
  • W. S. Kurth
  • J. S. Leisner
  • C. Paranicas
  • E. Roussos
  • C. T. Russell
  • P. Schippers
  • E. C. Sittler
  • H. T. Smith
  • M. F. Thomsen
  • M. K. Dougherty


Saturn’s rich magnetospheric environment is unique in the solar system, with a large number of active magnetospheric processes and phenomena. Observations of this environment from the Cassini spacecraft has enabled the study of a magnetospheric system which strongly interacts with other components of the saturnian system: the planet, its rings, numerous satellites (icy moons and Titan) and various dust, neutral and plasma populations. Understanding these regions, their dynamics and equilibria, and how they interact with the rest of the system via the exchange of mass, momentum and energy is important in understanding the system as a whole. Such an understanding represents a challenge to theorists, modellers and observers. Studies of Saturn’s magnetosphere based on Cassini data have revealed a system which is highly variable which has made understanding the physics of Saturn’s magnetosphere all the more difficult. Cassini’s combination of a comprehensive suite of magnetospheric fields and particles instruments with excellent orbital coverage of the saturnian system offers a unique opportunity for an in-depth study of the saturnian plasma and fields environment. In this paper knowledge of Saturn’s equatorial magnetosphere will be presented and synthesised into a global picture. Data from the Cassini magnetometer, low-energy plasma spectrometers, energetic particle detectors, radio and plasma wave instrumentation, cosmic dust detectors, and the results of theory and modelling are combined to provide a multi-instrumental identification and characterisation of equatorial magnetospheric regions at Saturn. This work emphasises the physical processes at work in each region and at their boundaries. The result of this study is a map of Saturn’s near equatorial magnetosphere, which represents a synthesis of our current understanding at the end of the Cassini Prime Mission of the global configuration of the equatorial magnetosphere.


Cassini Saturn Magnetospheric regions Plasma processes 



The authors acknowledge funding and support from the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in carrying out this multi-instrument study, which supported the team for two visits to ISSI, Berne, Switzerland. All the authors acknowledge the hospitality and kindness of the ISSI support team for making their visits pleasant and productive. CSA was supported in this work by the STFC rolling grant to MSSL/UCL and an STFC postdoctoral fellowship. NA acknowledges the support from CNES. The authors acknowledge the efforts of everyone working on the Cassini project and particularly the MAPS instrument teams for making the Cassini/Huygens mission such a success. CSA thanks Abi Rymer for useful discussions, Fran Bagenal and Don Gurnett for comments on the manuscript, and Don Mitchell for assistance with Cassini MIMI data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. S. Arridge
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. André
    • 3
    • 4
  • H. J. McAndrews
    • 5
  • E. J. Bunce
    • 6
  • M. H. Burger
    • 7
  • K. C. Hansen
    • 8
  • H.-W. Hsu
    • 9
  • R. E. Johnson
    • 10
  • G. H. Jones
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Kempf
    • 9
  • K. K. Khurana
    • 11
  • N. Krupp
    • 12
  • W. S. Kurth
    • 13
  • J. S. Leisner
    • 11
    • 13
  • C. Paranicas
    • 14
  • E. Roussos
    • 12
  • C. T. Russell
    • 11
  • P. Schippers
    • 13
    • 15
  • E. C. Sittler
    • 7
  • H. T. Smith
    • 14
  • M. F. Thomsen
    • 5
  • M. K. Dougherty
    • 16
  1. 1.Mullard Space Science LaboratoryUniversity College LondonDorkingUK
  2. 2.The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/BirkbeckLondonUK
  3. 3.CNRSInstitut de Recherche en Astrophysique et PlanétologieToulouse Cedex 4France
  4. 4.UPS-OMP, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et PlanétologieUniversité de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  5. 5.ISR-1, Space and Atmospheric Sciences GroupLANLLos AlamosUSA
  6. 6.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  7. 7.NASA/Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA
  8. 8.Center for Space Environment Modeling, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space SciencesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  9. 9.Max Planck Institute Nuclear PhysicsHeidelbergGermany
  10. 10.Engineering Physics Program and Astronomy DepartmentUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  11. 11.Institute of Geophysics and Planetary PhysicsUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  12. 12.Max-Planck Institut fuer SonnensystemforschungKatlenburg-LindauGermany
  13. 13.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  14. 14.Applied Physics LaboratoryJohns Hopkins UniversityLaurelUSA
  15. 15.Centre d’Etude Spatiale des RayonnementsToulouseFrance
  16. 16.The Blackett LaboratoryImperial CollegeLondonUK

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