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Recurrent pulsations in Saturn’s high latitude magnetosphere

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • D.G. Mitchell
  • J.F. Carbary
  • E.J. Bunce
  • A. Radioti
  • S.V. Badman
  • W.R. Pryor
  • G.B. Hospodarsky
  • W.S. Kurth
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2016
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)94-100
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/10/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Over the course of about 6 h on Day 129, 2008, the UV imaging spectrograph (UVIS) on the Cassini spacecraft observed a repeated intensification and broadening of the high latitude auroral oval into the polar cap. This feature repeated at least 5 times with about a 1 h period, as it rotated in the direction of corotation, somewhat below the planetary rotation rate, such that it moved from noon to post-dusk, and from roughly 77° to 82° northern latitudes during the observing interval. The recurring UV observation was accompanied by pronounced ∼1 h pulsations in auroral hiss power, magnetic perturbations consistent with small-scale field aligned currents, and energetic ion conics and electrons beaming upward parallel to the local magnetic field at the spacecraft location. The magnetic field and particle events are in phase with the auroral hiss pulsation. This event, taken in the context of the more thoroughly documented auroral hiss and particle signatures (seen on many high latitude Cassini orbits), sheds light on the possible driving mechanisms, the most likely of which are magnetopause reconnection and/or Kelvin Helmholtz waves.