Saturn’s mag­netic field

What has Cassini told us about the field sur­round­ing Saturn?

All About Space - - Results From Cassini -

Ax­ial align­ment

Cassini’s mea­sure­ments con­firm that Saturn’s mag­netic field is cu­ri­ously well aligned to its axis of ro­ta­tion.

Shaped by the Sun

Saturn’s mag­ne­to­sphere is sculpted into a teardrop shape by in­ter­ac­tions with the Sun’s own mag­netic field and the so­lar wind.

Ra­di­a­tion belts

Weak ra­di­a­tion belts lie just in­side and out­side the rings – the ring par­ti­cles and moons tend to soak up the en­er­getic par­ti­cles that would other­wise cre­ate more in­tense belts.

In­ter­nal gen­er­a­tor

The mag­netic field is gen­er­ated by masses of elec­tri­cally charged fluid ro­tat­ing in­side the planet.

Mag­netic disc

The outer reaches of the mag­netic field are flattened into a disc-like struc­ture with a ‘ring cur­rent’ flow­ing around it.

Plasma cav­ity

The mag­ne­to­sphere is filled with a plasma con­tain­ing elec­tri­cally charged par­ti­cles from a va­ri­ety of sources – mostly wa­ter vapour from Ence­ladus.

Puz­zling ro­ta­tion

Be­cause the mag­ne­to­sphere is aligned with Saturn’s po­lar axis it can’t be used to mea­sure the planet’s ro­ta­tion. As a re­sult, even after Cassini we still don’t know how fast Saturn’s in­te­rior spins!

Shield­ing Ti­tan

Saturn’s gi­ant moon has no in­trin­sic mag­netism of its own, but its at­mos­phere is pro­tected by an in­duced mag­netic field as it moves through Saturn’s mag­ne­to­sphere.

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