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See detailThe energy the auroral electrons in Saturn's atmosphere : remote sensing and thermal consequences
Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg; Gustin, Jacques ULg; Grodent, Denis ULg et al

Poster (2011, October)

Saturn’s north aurora has been observed between January and May 2011 with the Hubble Space Telescope. The objective was to collect spatially resolved spectra at the different local time from dawn to dusk ... [more ▼]

Saturn’s north aurora has been observed between January and May 2011 with the Hubble Space Telescope. The objective was to collect spatially resolved spectra at the different local time from dawn to dusk and compare them with laboratory or synthetic spectra. For this purpose, HST was programmed to slew from mid-latitudes through the auroral oval up to above the limb while collecting data in the timetag mode. The spectra show signatures of absorption by hydrocarbons present above the peak of the auroral emission. The amount of absorption and implications in terms of penetration of the auroral electron beam into Saturn’s atmosphere will be discussed and compared with other determinations of the altitude of the aurora. The effects of the auroral heat import on the thermal structure of the atmosphere both at high and low altitudes will be examined in the light of these results. [less ▲]

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See detailInside the Jupiter Main Auroral Emissions: Flares, Spots, Arc...and Satellite Footprints?
Bonfond, Bertrand ULg; Vogt, M. F.; Yoneda, M. et al

Conference (2011, July 11)

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See detailThe multiple spots of the Ganymede footprint
Bonfond, Bertrand ULg; Hess, S.; Grodent, Denis ULg et al

Poster (2011, July 11)

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See detailSaturn Auroral Movies from Cassini UVIS
Pryor, W. R.; Stewart, I.; Esposito, L. W. et al

in American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2009 (2009, December 01)

Cassini's Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) continues to obtain Saturn auroral data. Two long slit spectral channels are used to obtain EUV data from 56.3-118.2 nm and FUV data from 111.5-191.3 nm ... [more ▼]

Cassini's Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) continues to obtain Saturn auroral data. Two long slit spectral channels are used to obtain EUV data from 56.3-118.2 nm and FUV data from 111.5-191.3 nm. 64 spatial pixels along each slit are combined with slit motion to construct spectral images of Saturn. Auroral emissions are seen from electron-excited molecular and atomic hydrogen. In 2007-2009 UVIS obtained data with the spacecraft well out of Saturn's ring plane, permitting UVIS to obtain a number of short movies of the rotating auroral structures. Selected movies will be presented with geometric overlays and in polar projections. In some movies a cusp-like feature is present near noon inside the oval. One movie from 2008 day 201 shows parallel linear features on the day side almost at right angles to the main auroral oval that appear, then lengthen, separate in the middle, and then fade away. Other movies show similar cusp-related structures that resemble the letter "Q" where a dynamical feature at right angles to the oval moves away from the cusp region. The 2008 day 201 movie also shows one bright "polar flare" inside the oval with a spectrally distinct signature indicating the presence of higher energy electrons. A few of the most recent images were obtained at sufficiently close range that 2 spacecraft slews were needed to completely cover the oval. These images provide almost 100 pixels of information across the oval and clearly show multiple arcs of emission on the main oval and scattered emissions inside the oval. Several frames show emissions associated with the footprint of the Enceladus field line. We will discuss these features, their locations, and possible interpretations. [less ▲]

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See detailRecurrent energization of plasma in the midnight-to-dawn quadrant of Saturn's magnetosphere, and its relationship to auroral UV and radio emissions
Mitchell, D. G.; Krimigis, S. M.; Paranicas, C. et al

in Planetary and Space Science (2009), 57

We demonstrate that under some magnetospheric conditions protons and oxygen ions are accelerated once per Saturn magnetosphere rotation, at a preferred local time between midnight and dawn. Although ... [more ▼]

We demonstrate that under some magnetospheric conditions protons and oxygen ions are accelerated once per Saturn magnetosphere rotation, at a preferred local time between midnight and dawn. Although enhancements in energetic neutral atom (ENA) emission may in general occur at any local time and at any time in a Saturn rotation, those enhancements that exhibit a recurrence at a period very close to Saturn's rotation period usually recur in the same magnetospheric location. We suggest that these events result from current sheet acceleration in the 15-20 Rs range, probably associated with reconnection and plasmoid formation in Saturn's magnetotail. Simultaneous auroral observations by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Cassini Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (UVIS) suggest a close correlation between these dynamical magnetospheric events and dawn-side transient auroral brightenings. Likewise, many of the recurrent ENA enhancements coincide closely with bursts of Saturn kilometric radiation, again pointing to possible linkage with high latitude auroral processes. We argue that the rotating azimuthal asymmetry of the ring current pressure revealed in the ENA images creates an associated rotating field aligned current system linking to the ionosphere and driving the correlated auroral processes. [less ▲]

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See detailThe very busy auroral footprint of Ganymede
Grodent, Denis ULg; Bonfond, Bertrand ULg; Radioti, Aikaterini ULg et al

Conference (2009, September 13)

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See detailRecurrent Energization of Plasma in the Midnight-to-Dawn Quadrant of Saturn's Magnetosphere, and its Relationship to Auroral UV and Radio Emissions
Mitchell, D.; Krimigis, S.; Paranicas, C. et al

Poster (2009, August 11)

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See detailDoes Saturn's UV aurora vary with SKR phase?
Nichols, J. D.; Cowley, S. W. H.; Clarke, J. T. et al

Conference (2009, July 27)

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See detailThe Io UV footprint: Location, inter-spot distances and tail vertical extent
Bonfond, Bertrand ULg; Grodent, Denis ULg; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Space Physics (2009), 114

The Io footprint (IFP) consists of one or several spots observed in both jovian hemispheres and is related to the electromagnetic interaction between Io and the magnetosphere. These spots are followed by ... [more ▼]

The Io footprint (IFP) consists of one or several spots observed in both jovian hemispheres and is related to the electromagnetic interaction between Io and the magnetosphere. These spots are followed by an auroral curtain, called the tail, extending more than 90° longitude in the direction of planetary rotation. We use recent Hubble Space Telescope images of Jupiter to analyze the location of the footprint spots and tail as a function of Io's location in the jovian magnetic field. We present here a new IFP reference contour---the locus of all possible IFP positions---with an unprecedented accuracy, especially in previously poorly covered sectors. We also demonstrate that the lead angle - the longitudinal shift between Io and the actual IFP position - is not a reliable quantity for validation of the interaction models. Instead, the evolution of the inter-spot distances appears to be a better diagnosis of the Io-Jupiter interaction. Moreover, we present observations of the tail vertical profiles as seen above the limb. The emission peak altitude is ~900 km and remains relatively constant with the distance from the main spot. The altitudinal extent of the vertical emission profiles is not compatible with precipitation of a mono-energetic electron population. The best fit is obtained for a kappa distribution with a characteristic energy of ~70 eV and a spectral index of 2.3. The broadness of the inferred electron energy spectrum gives insight into the physics of the electron acceleration mechanism at play above the IFP tail. [less ▲]

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See detailVariation of different components of Jupiter's auroral emission
Nichols, J. D.; Clarke, J. T.; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Space Physics (2009), 114

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data set obtained over two campaigns in 2007 is used to determine the long-term variability of the different components of Jupiter's auroras. Three regions on the planet's ... [more ▼]

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data set obtained over two campaigns in 2007 is used to determine the long-term variability of the different components of Jupiter's auroras. Three regions on the planet's disc are defined: the main oval, the low-latitude auroras, and the high-latitude auroras. The UV auroral power emitted from these regions is extracted and compared to estimated solar wind conditions projected to Jupiter's orbit from Earth. In the first campaign the emitted power originated mainly from the main oval and the high-latitude regions, and in the second campaign the high-latitude and main oval auroras were dimmer and less variable, while the low-latitude region exhibited bright, patchy emission. We show that, apart from during specific enhancement events, the power emitted from the poleward auroras is generally uncorrelated with that of the main oval. The exception events are dawn storms and compression region enhancements. It is shown that the former events, typically associated with intense dawnside main oval auroras, also result in the brightening of the high-latitude auroras. The latter events associated with compression regions exhibit a particular auroral morphology; that is, where it is narrow and well defined, the main oval is bright and located ~1° poleward of its previous location, and elsewhere it is faint. Instead there is bright emission in the poleward region in the postnoon sector where distinct, bright, sometimes multiple arcs form. [less ▲]

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See detailResponse of Jupiter's and Saturn's auroral activity to the solar wind
Clarke, J. T.; Nichols, J.; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Space Physics (2009), 114

While the terrestrial aurorae are known to be driven primarily by the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the solar wind, there is considerable evidence that auroral emissions on Jupiter and ... [more ▼]

While the terrestrial aurorae are known to be driven primarily by the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the solar wind, there is considerable evidence that auroral emissions on Jupiter and Saturn are driven primarily by internal processes, with the main energy source being the planets' rapid rotation. Prior observations have suggested there might be some influence of the solar wind on Jupiter's aurorae and indicated that auroral storms on Saturn can occur at times of solar wind pressure increases. To investigate in detail the dependence of auroral processes on solar wind conditions, a large campaign of observations of these planets has been undertaken using the Hubble Space Telescope, in association with measurements from planetary spacecraft and solar wind conditions both propagated from 1 AU and measured near each planet. The data indicate a brightening of both the auroral emissions and Saturn kilometric radiation at Saturn close in time to the arrival of solar wind shocks and pressure increases, consistent with a direct physical relationship between Saturnian auroral processes and solar wind conditions. At Jupiter the correlation is less strong, with increases in total auroral power seen near the arrival of solar wind forward shocks but little increase observed near reverse shocks. In addition, auroral dawn storms have been observed when there was little change in solar wind conditions. The data are consistent with some solar wind influence on some Jovian auroral processes, while the auroral activity also varies independently of the solar wind. This extensive data set will serve to constrain theoretical models for the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. [less ▲]

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See detailObservations of Jovian polar auroral filaments
Nichols, J. D.; Clarke, J. T.; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

in Geophysical Research Letters (2009), 36

In this paper we report a phenomenon hitherto unobserved in Jupiter's ultraviolet polar auroras, specifically thin (~0.6° wide), long-lived quasi-sun-aligned polar auroral filaments (PAFs) of brightness ... [more ▼]

In this paper we report a phenomenon hitherto unobserved in Jupiter's ultraviolet polar auroras, specifically thin (~0.6° wide), long-lived quasi-sun-aligned polar auroral filaments (PAFs) of brightness ~100 kR spanning the highly variable region poleward of the main oval. This observation, made using Hubble Space Telescope images, is significant since no coherent structures have previously been observed in Jupiter's very high latitude auroral region, and it may help shed light on the dynamics of Jupiter's under-explored magnetotail. PAFs have been observed in 4 sets of observations over 6 days in 2007, and their occurrence appears to be independent of impinging solar wind conditions. The feature comprises two components: the section toward noon remains fixed in orientation toward the sun, while the anti-sunward section rotates. We estimate overall rotation rates of ~0--45% of corotation, values which may indicate the rotation rate of Jupiter's polar ionosphere and tail lobes. [less ▲]

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See detailTransient auroral features at Saturn: Signatures of energetic particle injections in the magnetosphere
Radioti, Aikaterini ULg; Grodent, Denis ULg; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Space Physics (2009), 114

We report for the first time transient isolated auroral spots at Saturn's southern polar region, based on Hubble Space Telescope (HST) FUV images. The spots last several minutes and appear distinct from ... [more ▼]

We report for the first time transient isolated auroral spots at Saturn's southern polar region, based on Hubble Space Telescope (HST) FUV images. The spots last several minutes and appear distinct from the rest of the auroral emissions. We study two sets of HST and Cassini observations during which Cassini instrumentation detected signatures of energetic particle injections close to the region where, on the same day, HST observed transient auroral spots. On the basis of the simultaneous remote and in situ observations, we discuss the possibility that the transient features are associated with the dynamical processes taking place in the Kronian magnetosphere. Given the limitations in the available observations, we suggest the following possible explanations for the transient aurora. The injection region could directly be coupled to Saturn's ionosphere by pitch angle diffusion and electron scattering by whistler waves, or by the electric current flowing along the boundary of the injected cloud. The energy contained in the injection region indicates that electron scattering could account for the transient aurora process. [less ▲]

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See detailAltitude of Saturn's aurora and its implications for the characteristic energy of precipitated electrons
Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg; Bonfond, Bertrand ULg; Gustin, Jacques ULg et al

in Geophysical Research Letters (2009), 36

Images of Saturn's aurora at the limb have been collected with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on board the Hubble Space Telescope. They show that the peak of Saturn's nightside emission is generally ... [more ▼]

Images of Saturn's aurora at the limb have been collected with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on board the Hubble Space Telescope. They show that the peak of Saturn's nightside emission is generally located 900-1300 km above the 1-bar level. On the other hand, methane and H[SUB]2[/SUB] columns overlying the aurora have been determined from the analysis of FUV and EUV spectra, respectively. Using a low-latitude model, these columns place the emission layer at or above 610 km. One possibility to solve this apparent discrepancy between imaging and spectral observations is to assume that the thermospheric temperature in the auroral region sharply increases at a higher pressure level than in the low-latitude regions. Using an electron transport code, we estimate the characteristic energy of the precipitated electrons derived from these observations to be in the range 1-5 keV using a low latitude model and 5-30 keV in case of the modified model. [less ▲]

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See detailSaturn's equinoctial auroras
Nichols, J. D.; Badman, S. V.; Bunce, E. J. et al

in Geophysical Research Letters (2009), 36

We present the first images of Saturn's conjugate equinoctial auroras, obtained in early 2009 using the Hubble Space Telescope. We show that the radius of the northern auroral oval is similar to 1.5 ... [more ▼]

We present the first images of Saturn's conjugate equinoctial auroras, obtained in early 2009 using the Hubble Space Telescope. We show that the radius of the northern auroral oval is similar to 1.5 degrees smaller than the southern, indicating that Saturn's polar ionospheric magnetic field, measured for the first time in the ionosphere, is similar to 17% larger in the north than the south. Despite this, the total emitted UV power is on average similar to 17% larger in the north than the south, suggesting that field-aligned currents (FACs) are responsible for the emission. Finally, we show that individual auroral features can exhibit distinct hemispheric asymmetries. These observations will provide important context for Cassini observations as Saturn moves from southern to northern summer. Citation: Nichols, J. D., et al. (2009), Saturn's equinoctial auroras, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L24102, doi: 10.1029/2009GL041491. [less ▲]

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See detailAuroral Processes
Kurth, W. S.; Bunce, E. J.; Clarke, J. T. et al

in Dougherty, M. K.; Esposito, L. W.; Krimigis, S. M. (Eds.) Saturn from Cassini-Huygens (2009)

Cassini has afforded a number of unique opportunities to understand auroral processes at Saturn and to highlight both differences and similarities with auroral physics at both Earth and Jupiter. A number ... [more ▼]

Cassini has afforded a number of unique opportunities to understand auroral processes at Saturn and to highlight both differences and similarities with auroral physics at both Earth and Jupiter. A number of campaigns were coordinated with the Hubble Space Telescope such that Cassini could provide either ground truth on the impinging solar wind or in situ measurements of magnetospheric conditions leading to qualitative and sometimes quantitative relationships between the solar wind influence on the intensity, the morphology and evolution of the auroras, and magnetospheric dynamics. The Hubble UV images are enhanced by Cassini’s own remote sensing of the auroras. Cassini’s in situ studies of the structure and dynamics of the magnetosphere discussed in other chapters of this book provide the context for understanding the primary drivers of Saturn’s auroras and the role of magnetospheric dynamics in their variations. Finally, Cassini’s three dimensional prime mission survey of the magnetosphere culminates in high inclination orbits placing it at relatively small radial distances while on auroral field lines, providing the first such in situ observations of auroral particles and fields at a planet other than Earth. The new observations have spawned a number of efforts to model the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetosphere and how such dynamics influence the auroras. [less ▲]

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See detailRecent results from HST and ground-based observations of Saturn's aurora
Grodent, Denis ULg; Stallard, T.; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

Conference (2008, December 01)

Current observations of Saturn's aurora performed from Earth-orbit with HST and ground based instruments more than complement the in situ measurements obtained by the Cassini spacecraft. These remote ... [more ▼]

Current observations of Saturn's aurora performed from Earth-orbit with HST and ground based instruments more than complement the in situ measurements obtained by the Cassini spacecraft. These remote observations focus on two spectral windows revealing different facets of the same auroral phenomenon. The auroral photons captured in the ultraviolet bandwidth result from direct impact excitation of H and H2 by charged particles accelerated along magnetic field lines, while the thermal infrared emission involves additional steps in order to produce hot H3+ from the auroral energy. Each spectral window presents its own advantages. The high spatial and temporal resolution of the recent UV images obtained with HST make it possible to discriminate auroral sub-structures, such as short lived arcs and spots, and to map them into the magnetosphere where they can be associated with in situ observations. Infrared high resolution spectroscopy and emission-line imaging from ground observatories (IRTF, UKIRT) have more modest spatial resolution; however they recently pinned down emissions barely observed in the UV. Furthermore, they offer a direct measurement of the ion wind velocities in the auroral ionosphere. These ion flow patterns might then be used to untangle the origin of the auroral particles. The complementarity of observations obtained in the UV and IR bandwidths provides a powerful tool to study the auroral mechanisms in the Kronian magnetosphere and the atmospheric response to the auroral input. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Degree of Correlation of Jovian and Saturnian Auroral Emissions With Solar Wind Conditions
Clarke, J. T.; Nichols, J.; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

Conference (2008, December 01)

While the terrestrial aurorae are known to be driven primarily by the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the solar wind, auroral emissions on Jupiter and Saturn are thought to be driven ... [more ▼]

While the terrestrial aurorae are known to be driven primarily by the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the solar wind, auroral emissions on Jupiter and Saturn are thought to be driven primarily by internal processes, with the main energy source being the planets' rapid rotation. Limited evidence has suggested there might be some influence of the solar wind on Jupiter's aurorae, and indicated that auroral storms on Saturn can occur at times of solar wind pressure increases. To investigate in detail the dependence of auroral processes on solar wind conditions, a large campaign of observations of these planets has been undertaken using the Hubble Space Telescope, in association with measurements from planetary spacecraft and solar wind conditions both propagated from one AU and measured near each planet. The data indicate a consistent brightening of both the auroral emissions and Saturn Kilometric Radiation (SKR) at Saturn close in time to the arrival of solar wind shocks and pressure increases, consistent with a direct physical relationship between Saturnian auroral processes and solar wind conditions. This correlation has been strengthened by the final campaign observations in Feb. 2008. At Jupiter the situation is less clear, with increases in total auroral power seen near the arrival of solar wind forward shocks, while little increase has been observed near reverse shocks. In addition, auroral dawn storms have been observed when there was little change in solar wind conditions. The data are consistent with some solar wind influence on some Jovian auroral processes, while the auroral activity also varies independently of the solar wind. This extensive data set will serve to constrain theoretical models for the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. [less ▲]

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See detailCoordinated measurements of auroral processes at Saturn from the Cassini spacecraft and HST
Mitchell, D. G.; Kurth, William; Hospodarsky, G. B. et al

Conference (2008, December 01)

One of the primary Cassini mission objectives at Saturn is to characterize Saturn's aurora-its spatial morphology, associated particle energization, radio wave generation, and magnetospheric currents ... [more ▼]

One of the primary Cassini mission objectives at Saturn is to characterize Saturn's aurora-its spatial morphology, associated particle energization, radio wave generation, and magnetospheric currents, relationship with solar wind pressure and magnetic field, and its large scale mapping to the magnetosphere. By design, the Cassini orbital tour included high inclination and low periapsis orbits late in the prime mission specifically to address many of these topics. In this presentation, we will provide a snapshot of the current state of our investigation into the relationship between magnetospheric measurements of particles and fields, and the aurora. For in situ data, we will show measurements of upward traveling light ion conics (~30 keV to 200 keV), often accompanied by electron beams (<20 keV to ~1 MeV) and enhanced broadband noise (10 Hz to a few kHz), throughout the outer magnetosphere on field lines that nominally map from well into the polar cap (dipole L > 50) to well into the closed field region (dipole L < 10). Sometimes the particle phenomena and the broadband noise occur in pulses of roughly five-minute duration, separated by tens of minutes. At other times they are relatively steady over an hour or more. Magnetic signatures associated with some of the pulsed events are consistent with field aligned current structures. Correlative observations of solar wind (Cassini) and aurora (HST) have established a strong relationship between solar wind pressure and auroral activity (brightness) (Crary et al., Nature, 2005; Clarke et al., JGR, 2008). A similar correspondence between bright auroral arcs and ring current ion acceleration will be shown here. So while some auroral forms seem to be associated with the open/closed field boundary (i.e. in the cusp-Bunce et al., JGR, 2008), we also demonstrate that under some magnetospheric conditions for which protons and oxygen ions are accelerated once per Saturn magnetosphere rotation at a preferred local time between midnight and dawn, simultaneous auroral observations by the HST reveal a close correlation between these dynamical magnetospheric events and dawn-side transient auroral brightenings. Likewise, many of the recurrent energetic neutral atom enhancements coincide closely with bursts of Saturn kilometric radiation, again suggesting a linkage with high latitude auroral processes. Finally, we will show some intriguing results of auroral movie sequences from the Cassini UVIS instrument with corresponding ring current movies from the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument Ion and Neutral Camera (MIMI/INCA). [less ▲]

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