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Simultaneous Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora: comparing emissions from H, H2 and H3+ at a high spatial resolution

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • H. Melin
  • T. Stallard
  • S. Miller
  • J. Gustin
  • M. Galand
  • S. V. Badman
  • W. R. Pryor
  • J. O'donoghue
  • R. H. Brown
  • K. H. Baines
Article numberL15203
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
Number of pages5
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Here, for the first time, temporally coincident and spatially overlapping Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora are presented. Ultraviolet auroral H and H2 emissions from UVIS are compared to infrared H3+ emission from VIMS. The auroral emission is structured into three arcs – H, H2 and H3+ are morphologically identical in the bright main auroral oval (∼73°S), but there is an equatorward arc that is seen predominantly in H (∼70°S), and a poleward arc (∼74°S) that is seen mainly in H2 and H3+. These observations indicate that, for the main auroral oval, UV emission is a good proxy for the infrared H3+ morphology (and vice versa), but for emission either poleward or equatorward this is no longer true. Hence, simultaneous UV/IR observations are crucial for completing the picture of how the atmosphere interacts with the magnetosphere.

Bibliographic note

Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.