Composition and dynamics of plasma in Saturn's magnetosphere

D. T. Young, J. J. Berthelier, M. Blanc, J. L. Burch, S. Bolton, A. J. Coates, F. J. Crary, R. Goldstein, M. Grande, T. W. Hill, R. E. Johnson, R. A. Baragiola, V. Kelha, D. J. McComas, K. Mursula, E. C. Sittler, K. R. Svenes, K. Szegö, P. Tanskanen, M. F. ThomsenS. Bakshi, B. L. Barraclough, Z. Bebesi, D. Delapp, M. W. Dunlop, J. T. Gosling, J. D. Furman, L. K. Gilbert, D. Glenn, C. Holmlund, J. M. Illiano, G. R. Lewis, D. R. Linder, S. Maurice, H. J. McAndrews, B. T. Narheim, E. Pallier, D. Reisenfeld, A. M. Rymer, H. T. Smith, R. L. Tokar, J. Vilppola, C. Zinsmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During Cassini's initial orbit, we observed a dynamic magnetosphere composed primarily of a complex mixture of water-derived atomic and molecular ions. We have identified four distinct regions characterized by differences in both bulk plasma properties and ion composition. Protons are the dominant species outside about 9 RS (where RS is the radial distance from the center of Saturn), whereas inside, the plasma consists primarily of a corotating comet-like mix of water-derived ions with approximately 3% N+. Over the A and B rings, we found an ionosphere in which O2+ and O+ are dominant, which suggests the possible existence of a layer of O2 gas similar to the atmospheres of Europa and Ganymede.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1266
Number of pages5
Issue number5713
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2005


  • Atmosphere
  • Extraterrestrial Environment
  • Hydrogen
  • Ice
  • Ions
  • Magnetics
  • Oxygen
  • Protons
  • Saturn
  • Spacecraft
  • Spectrum Analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Composition and dynamics of plasma in Saturn's magnetosphere'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this