Space Science Reviews

, Volume 182, Issue 1–4, pp 85–154 | Cite as

Large-Scale Structure and Dynamics of the Magnetotails of Mercury, Earth, Jupiter and Saturn

  • C. M. JackmanEmail author
  • C. S. Arridge
  • N. André
  • F. Bagenal
  • J. Birn
  • M. P. Freeman
  • X. Jia
  • A. Kidder
  • S. E. Milan
  • A. Radioti
  • J. A. Slavin
  • M. F. Vogt
  • M. Volwerk
  • A. P. Walsh


Spacecraft observations have established that all known planets with an internal magnetic field, as part of their interaction with the solar wind, possess well-developed magnetic tails, stretching vast distances on the nightside of the planets. In this review paper we focus on the magnetotails of Mercury, Earth, Jupiter and Saturn, four planets which possess well-developed tails and which have been visited by several spacecraft over the years. The fundamental physical processes of reconnection, convection, and charged particle acceleration are common to the magnetic tails of Mercury, Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. The great differences in solar wind conditions, planetary rotation rates, internal plasma sources, ionospheric properties, and physical dimensions from Mercury’s small magnetosphere to the giant magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn provide an outstanding opportunity to extend our understanding of the influence of such factors on basic processes. In this review article, we study the four planetary environments of Mercury, Earth, Jupiter and Saturn, comparing their common features and contrasting their unique dynamics.


Magnetotail Mercury Earth Jupiter Saturn Magnetosphere 



We acknowledge the generous support of the International Space Science Institute. All authors are members of ISSI team number 195, “Investigating the Dynamics of Planetary Magnetotails”. CMJ’s work at UCL was funded through a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship and a Royal Astronomical Society Fellowship (subsequently at University of Southampton). CMJ acknowledges useful discussion with Edward Smith. CSA was funded through a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and an STFC Postdoctoral fellowship. JAS is funded by the MESSENGER project which is supported by the NASA Discovery Program under contracts NASW-00002 to the Carnegie Institution of Washington and NAS5-97271 to The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. AK is supported by NASA grant NNX07AJ80G to the University of Washington. AR is funded by the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS). XJ is supported by the NASA Cassini Data Analysis Program through grant NNX12AK34G and by the NASA Cassini mission under contract 1409449 with JPL. MPF was supported by the Polar Science for Planet Earth Programme at the British Antarctic Survey. MFV’s work at the University of Leicester was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Consolidated grant ST/K001000/1. JB acknowledges support through NASA grants NNG08EJ63I, NNH11AQ42I, NNH10A045I, and NSF grant 1203711. Most of JB’s work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy, while JB was a Staff Member at Los Alamos. CMJ would like to acknowledge the comments of two reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Jackman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • C. S. Arridge
    • 2
    • 4
  • N. André
    • 5
    • 6
  • F. Bagenal
    • 7
  • J. Birn
    • 8
    • 9
  • M. P. Freeman
    • 10
  • X. Jia
    • 11
  • A. Kidder
    • 12
  • S. E. Milan
    • 13
  • A. Radioti
    • 14
  • J. A. Slavin
    • 11
  • M. F. Vogt
    • 13
    • 15
  • M. Volwerk
    • 16
  • A. P. Walsh
    • 17
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/BirkbeckLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  4. 4.Mullard Space Science LaboratoryUniversity College LondonHolmbury St. MaryUK
  5. 5.Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et PlanétologieUniversité Paul SabatierToulouseFrance
  6. 6.CNRSInstitut de Recherche en Astrophysique et PlanétologieToulouseFrance
  7. 7.Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space PhysicsUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  8. 8.Space Science InstituteBoulderUSA
  9. 9.Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  10. 10.British Antarctic SurveyCambridgeUK
  11. 11.Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space SciencesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  12. 12.Department of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  13. 13.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  14. 14.Laboratoire de Physique Atmospherique et Planetaire, Institut d’Astrophysique et de GeophysiqueUniversite de LiegeLiegeBelgium
  15. 15.Center for Space PhysicsBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  16. 16.Space Research InstituteAustrian Academy of SciencesGrazAustria
  17. 17.ESTECESANoordwiik ZHThe Netherlands

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