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See detailThe science case for an orbital mission to Uranus: Exploring the origins and evolution of ice giant planets
Arridge, C. S.; Achilleos, N.; Agarwal, J. et al

in Planetary and Space Science (2014), (0), -

Abstract Giant planets helped to shape the conditions we see in the Solar System today and they account for more than 99% of the mass of the Sun's planetary system. They can be subdivided into the Ice ... [more ▼]

Abstract Giant planets helped to shape the conditions we see in the Solar System today and they account for more than 99% of the mass of the Sun's planetary system. They can be subdivided into the Ice Giants (Uranus and Neptune) and the Gas Giants (Jupiter and Saturn), which differ from each other in a number of fundamental ways. Uranus, in particular is the most challenging to our understanding of planetary formation and evolution, with its large obliquity, low self-luminosity, highly asymmetrical internal field, and puzzling internal structure. Uranus also has a rich planetary system consisting of a system of inner natural satellites and complex ring system, five major natural icy satellites, a system of irregular moons with varied dynamical histories, and a highly asymmetrical magnetosphere. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have explored Uranus, with a flyby in 1986, and no mission is currently planned to this enigmatic system. However, a mission to the uranian system would open a new window on the origin and evolution of the Solar System and would provide crucial information on a wide variety of physicochemical processes in our Solar System. These have clear implications for understanding exoplanetary systems. In this paper we describe the science case for an orbital mission to Uranus with an atmospheric entry probe to sample the composition and atmospheric physics in Uranus’ atmosphere. The characteristics of such an orbiter and a strawman scientific payload are described and we discuss the technical challenges for such a mission. This paper is based on a white paper submitted to the European Space Agency's call for science themes for its large-class mission programme in 2013. [less ▲]

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See detailAuroral counterpart of magnetic field dipolarizations in Saturn’s tail
Jackman, C.M.; Achilleos, N.; Cowley, S.W.H. et al

in Planetary and Space Science (2013)

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See detailAuroral counterpart of magnetic field dipolarizations in Saturn's tail
Jackman, C. M.; Achilleos, N.; Bunce, E. J. et al

in American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2011, abstract #SM14A-07 (2011, December 01)

Following magnetic reconnection in a planetary magnetotail, newly closed field lines can be rapidly accelerated back towards the planet, becoming "dipolarized" in the process. At Saturn, dipolarizations ... [more ▼]

Following magnetic reconnection in a planetary magnetotail, newly closed field lines can be rapidly accelerated back towards the planet, becoming "dipolarized" in the process. At Saturn, dipolarizations can be initially identified from the magnetometer data by looking for a southward turning of the magnetic field, indicating the transition from a radially stretched configuration to a more dipolar field topology. The highly stretched geometry of the kronian magnetotail lobes gives rise to a tail current which flows eastward (dusk to dawn) in the near equatorial plane across the centre of the tail. During reconnection and associated dipolarization of the field, the inner edge of this tail current can be diverted through the ionosphere, in a situation analogous to the substorm current wedge picture at Earth [McPherron et al. 1973]. We present a picture of the current circuit arising from this tail reconfiguration, and outline the equations which govern the field-current relationship. We show a number of examples of dipolarizations as identified in the Cassini magnetometer data and use this formalism to calculate limits for the ionospheric current density that would arise for these examples. In addition to the magnetometer data, we also present data from the Cassini VIMS and UVIS instruments which have observed small 'spots' of auroral emission lying near the main oval - features thought to be associated with dipolarizations in the tail. We compare the auroral intensities as predicted from our calculation with the observed spot sizes and intensities. [less ▲]

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