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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Citations (Scopus)


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


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