Comparisons of Cassini flybys of the Titan magnetospheric interaction with an MHD model: Evidence for organized behavior at high altitudes
2012 (English)In: Icarus (New York, N.Y. 1962), ISSN 0019-1035, E-ISSN 1090-2643, Vol. 217, no 1, 43-54 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Recent papers suggest the significant variability of conditions in Saturn's magnetosphere at the orbit of Titan. Because of this variability, it was expected that models would generally have a difficult time regularly comparing to data from the Titan flybys. However, we find that in contrast to this expectation, it appears that there is underlying organization of the interaction features roughly above similar to 1800 km (1.7 Rt) altitude by the average external field due to Saturn's dipole moment. In this study, we analyze Cassini's plasma and magnetic field data collected at 9 Titan encounters during which the external field is close to the ideal southward direction and compare these observations to the results from a 2-fluid (1 ion, 1 electron) 7-species MHD model simulations obtained under noon SLT conditions. Our comparative analysis shows that under noon SLT conditions the Titan plasma interaction can be viewed in two layers: an outer layer between 6400 and 1800 km where interaction features observed in the magnetic field are in basic agreement with a purely southward external field interaction and an inner layer below 1800 km where the magnetic field measurements show strong variations and deviate from the model predictions. Thus the basic features inferred from the Voyager 1 flyby seem to be generally present above similar to 1800 km in spite of the ongoing external variations from SLT excursions, time variability and magnetospheric current systems as long as a significant southward external field component is present. At around similar to 1800 km kinetic effects (such as mass loading and heavy ion pickup) and below 1800 km ionospheric effects (such as drag of ionospheric plasma due to coupling with neutral winds and/or magnetic memory of Titan's ionosphere) complicate what is observed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 217, no 1, 43-54 p.
Titan, Saturn, Satellites, Ionospheres
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-169608DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2011.10.009ISI: 000299130900004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-169608DiVA: diva2:508096