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Cusp observation at Saturn's high-latitude magnetosphere by the Cassini spacecraft

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • J. M. Jasinski
  • C. S. Arridge
  • L. Lamy
  • J. S. Leisner
  • M. F. Thomsen
  • Donald G. Mitchell
  • A. J. Coates
  • A. Radioti
  • Geraint H. Jones
  • E. Roussos
  • N. Krupp
  • D. Grodent
  • M. K. Dougherty
  • J. H. Waite
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/03/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)1382-1388
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/03/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We report on the first analysis of magnetospheric cusp observations at Saturn by multiple in situ instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft. Using this we infer the process of reconnection was occurring at Saturn's magnetopause. This agrees with remote observations that showed the associated auroral signatures of reconnection. Cassini crossed the northern cusp around noon local time along a poleward trajectory. The spacecraft observed ion energy-latitude dispersionsa characteristic signature of the terrestrial cusp. This ion dispersion is stepped, which shows that the reconnection is pulsed. The ion energy-pitch angle dispersions suggest that the field-aligned distance from the cusp to the reconnection site varies between approximate to 27 and 51 R-S. An intensification of lower frequencies of the Saturn kilometric radiation emissions suggests the prior arrival of a solar wind shock front, compressing the magnetosphere and providing more favorable conditions for magnetopause reconnection.

Key Points

We observe evidence for reconnection in the cusp plasma at Saturn We present evidence that the reconnection process can be pulsed at Saturn Saturn's cusp shows similar characteristics to the terrestrial cusp

Bibliographic note

©2014. The Authors.