Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Saturn's skewed ring current

23.08.2007
Images taken by Cassini’s Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI) show that Saturn’s ring current is a warped disc that balloons out of the equatorial plane on the planet’s dayside and remains a thin disk that rises above the plane at larger distances on the nightside.

Dr Stamatios “Tom” Krimigis, the Principal Investigator for the instrument, who is presenting images at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam on Thursday 23rd August, said, “Ring currents surround planets sort of like the brim of a hat. Uniquely in Saturn’s case, that brim has been crushed at the front and tipped up at the back, so it’s pretty bent out of shape!”


MIMI image showing the energetic neutral atom emission from Saturn’s ring current as the energetic ions charge exchange with the dense water products neutral cloud surrounding Saturn. The pronounced asymmetry (bright emission in the upper left quadrant, located between noon and dawn) rotates with the planet, and the bright spot will appear 180° away approximately 5..5 hours later.

The presence of a ring current around Saturn was first suggested in the early 1980s following magnetic anomalies observed by the Pioneer 11 and Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Ring currents are also found around Earth and Jupiter. They are caused when plasma becomes trapped between mirror points on magnetic field lines, similar to the Van Allen radiation belts surrounding Earth, and gradually drifts around the planet. The aggregate motion of all of the hot ions distributed around the equator generates an electric current. On Saturn, the source of the plasma is material from the rings and gas vented by geysers on the moon Enceladus, which is subsequently ionized and accelerated. The MIMI images show that the ring current occupies a region of the equatorial plane between 540 000 kilometres and 1 080 000 kilometres from the centre of Saturn. They also show that Saturn’s ring current is persistently asymmetric (unlike Earth’s), and that the asymmetry rotates nearly rigidly with Saturn.

MIMI, which was developed by an international team led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Maryland, has three distinct sensors that allow it to “visualize the invisible” and show the plasma and radiation belts in Saturn’s environment in an image. The MIMI instrument includes an Ion and Neutral Camera developed by APL, a spectrometer built by the University of Maryland, and a low energy particle detector developed by the Max-Planck-Institut fuer Sonnensystemforschung and a number of co-investigator institutions including CESR in Toulouse.

Anita Heward | alfa
Further information:
http://www.europlanet-eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=107&Itemid=32

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration
18.10.2017 | NASA/Johnson Space Center

nachricht Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars
18.10.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>