Transport and chemical loss rates in Saturn's inner plasma disk
2016 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 121, no 3, 2321-2334 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The Kronian moon Enceladus is constantly feeding its surrounding with new gas and dust, from cryovolcanoes located in its south polar region. Through photoionization and impact ionization of the neutrals a plasma disk is created, which mainly contains hydrogen ions H+ and water group ions W+. This paper investigates the importance of ion loss by outward radial transport and ion loss by dissociative recombination, which is the dominant chemical loss process in the inner plasma disk. We use plasma densities derived from several years of measurements by the Cassini Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) electric field spectrums and Langmuir probe (LP), to derive the total flux tube content NL2. Our calculation show that NL2 agrees well with earlier estimates within L shell 8. We also show that loss by transport dominates chemical loss in between L shell 2.5 and 10. The loss rate by transport is ∼5 times larger at 5 Saturn radii (1 RS = 60,268 km) and the difference is increasing as L7.7 for larger radial distances, for the total ion population. Chemical loss may still be important for the structure of the plasma disk in the region closest to Enceladus (∼±0.5 RS) at 3.95 RS, since the transport and chemical loss rates only differ by a factor of ∼2 in this region. We also derive the total plasma content of the plasma disk from L shell 4 to 10 to be 1.9×10^33 ions, and the total ion source rate for the same region to be 5.8×10^27 s^−1. The equatorial ion production rate P, ranges from 2.6×10^−5 cm^−3s^−1 (at L = 10) to 1.1×10^−4 cm^−3s^−1 (at L = 4.8). The net mass loading rate is derived to be 123 kg/s for L shell 4 to 10.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 121, no 3, 2321-2334 p.
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263274DOI: 10.1002/2015JA021784ISI: 000374730900032OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-263274DiVA: diva2:857682
FunderSwedish National Space Board, DNR 162/14 DNR 166/14Swedish Research Council, DNR 621-2014-450 5526