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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 detailMultispectral simultaneous diagnosis of Saturn's aurorae throughout a planetary rotation
Lamy, L.; Prangé, R.; Pryor, W. et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Space Physics (2013), 118

From 27 to 28 January 2009, the Cassini spacecraft remotely acquired combined observations of Saturn's southern aurorae at radio, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths, while monitoring ion injections in ... [more ▼]

From 27 to 28 January 2009, the Cassini spacecraft remotely acquired combined observations of Saturn's southern aurorae at radio, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths, while monitoring ion injections in the middle magnetosphere from energetic neutral atoms. Simultaneous measurements included the sampling of a full planetary rotation, a relevant timescale to investigate auroral emissions driven by processes internal to the magnetosphere. In addition, this interval coincidentally matched a powerful substorm-like event in the magnetotail, which induced an overall dawnside intensification of the magnetospheric and auroral activity. We comparatively analyze this unique set of measurements to reach a comprehensive view of kronian auroral processes over the investigated timescale. We identify three source regions for the atmospheric aurorae, including a main oval associated with the bulk of Saturn Kilometric Radiation (SKR), together with polar and equatorward emissions. These observations reveal the coexistence of corotational and subcorototational dynamics of emissions associated with the main auroral oval. Precisely, we show that the atmospheric main oval hosts short-lived subcorotating isolated features together with a bright, longitudinally extended, corotating region locked at the southern SKR phase. We assign the substorm-like event to a regular, internally driven, nightside ion injection possibly triggered by a plasmoid ejection. We also investigate the total auroral energy budget, from the power input to the atmosphere, characterized by precipitating electrons up to 20 keV, to its dissipation through the various radiating processes. Finally, through simulations, we confirm the search-light nature of the SKR rotational modulation and we show that SKR arcs relate to isolated auroral spots. We characterize which radio sources are visible from the spacecraft and we estimate the fraction of visible southern power to a few percent. The resulting findings are discussed in the frame of pending questions as the persistence of a corotating field-aligned current system within a subcorotating magnetospheric cold plasma, the occurrence of plasmoid activity, and the comparison of auroral fluxes radiated at different wavelengths. [less ▲]

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See detailSimultaneous Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora
Melin, H.; Stallard, T.; Miller, S. et al

Conference (2012)

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See detailMulti‐spectral simultaneous observations of Saturn's aurorae in Jan. 2009
Lamy, L.; Prange, R.; Gustin, Jacques ULg et al

Conference (2012)

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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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See detailSaturn's aurora as viewed by Cassini VIMS
Melin, H.; Stallard, T.; Badman, S. V. et al

Conference (2011, December 01)

The stunning views of the kronian aurora captured by the Visual and Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (VIMS) onboard the Cassini spacecraft continues to provide crucial observations of the fervent interaction ... [more ▼]

The stunning views of the kronian aurora captured by the Visual and Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (VIMS) onboard the Cassini spacecraft continues to provide crucial observations of the fervent interaction between the upper atmosphere and the magnetosphere of Saturn. Here, we present recent findings of VIMS auroral research, which includes both statistical studies and case studies of auroral events and morphology. In addition to stand-alone observations, there is a small subset of VIMS observations during which UVIS was also acquiring data. These observations enable the comparison between observations of H, H2 in the ultraviolet and H3+ in the infrared that are both spatially overlapping and temporally simultaneous. Whilst emission tends to coincide for these three species on the main oval, there are significant differences both pole-ward and equator-ward, such that observations of H and H2 is generally a poor proxy for emissions of H3+. VIMS is sensitive to infrared thermal emission from the H3+ molecule, which is formed very efficiently via the ionisation of H2. Therefore, the morphology of H3+ emission becomes a tracer of energy injected into the upper atmosphere - the most striking of which is auroral particle precipitation. [less ▲]

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See detailSimultaneous Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora
Melin, H.; Stallard, T.; Miller, S. et al

in EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2011 (2011, October 01)

Here, temporally simultaneous and spatially overlapping Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora are presented. The pointing is fixed at a constant local time of 04:55, covering ... [more ▼]

Here, temporally simultaneous and spatially overlapping Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora are presented. The pointing is fixed at a constant local time of 04:55, covering latitudes between 64°S and 82°S and longitudes between 127° and 186°. The spatial resolution is high, with 1 mrad covering ˜300 km, such that only a small part of the pre-dawn aurora is observed. Ultraviolet auroral H and H2 emissions from UVIS are compared to infrared H+3 emission from VIMS. The auroral emission is structured into three arcs - H, H2 and H+3 are morphologically identical in the bright main auroral oval (˜73°S), but there is an equatorward arc that is seen predominantly in H (˜70°S), and a poleward arc (˜74°S) that is seen mainly in H2 and H+3 . These observations indicate that, for the main auroral oval, the UV emission is a good proxy for the infrared H+3 morphology (and vice versa), but for emission either poleward or equatorward this is no longer true. Hence, given the highly dynamic nature of the aurora of Saturn, simultaneous UV/IR observations are crucial for completing the picture of how the atmosphere interacts with the magnetosphere. [less ▲]

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See detailSimultaneous Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora: Comparing emissions from H, H2 and H3+ at a high spatial resolution
Melin, H.; Stallard, T.; Miller, S. et al

in Geophysical Research Letters (2011), 38

Here, for the first time, temporally coincident and spatially overlapping Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora are presented. Ultraviolet auroral H and H[SUB]2[/SUB] emissions ... [more ▼]

Here, for the first time, temporally coincident and spatially overlapping Cassini VIMS and UVIS observations of Saturn's southern aurora are presented. Ultraviolet auroral H and H[SUB]2[/SUB] emissions from UVIS are compared to infrared H[SUB]3[/SUB][SUP]+[/SUP] emission from VIMS. The auroral emission is structured into three arcs - H, H[SUB]2[/SUB] and H[SUB]3[/SUB][SUP]+[/SUP] are morphologically identical in the bright main auroral oval (˜73°S), but there is an equatorward arc that is seen predominantly in H (˜70°S), and a poleward arc (˜74°S) that is seen mainly in H[SUB]2[/SUB] and H[SUB]3[/SUB][SUP]+[/SUP]. These observations indicate that, for the main auroral oval, UV emission is a good proxy for the infrared H[SUB]3[/SUB][SUP]+[/SUP] morphology (and vice versa), but for emission either poleward or equatorward this is no longer true. Hence, simultaneous UV/IR observations are crucial for completing the picture of how the atmosphere interacts with the magnetosphere. [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 detailSaturn's radio, UV and IR aurorae observed simultaneously by Cassini
Lamy, L.; Prangé, R.; Gustin, Jacques ULg et al

in European Planetary Science Congress 2010 (2010, September 01)

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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 detailEvolution of Saturn's Bright Polar Aurora
Stallard, T.; Grodent, Denis ULg; Badman, S. V. et al

Conference (2009)

Observations of Saturn's infrared aurorae have shown that in addition to the main auroral oval, which is believed to be associated with the solar wind, there are significant polar emissions. Ground-based ... [more ▼]

Observations of Saturn's infrared aurorae have shown that in addition to the main auroral oval, which is believed to be associated with the solar wind, there are significant polar emissions. Ground-based infrared observations of Saturn have been able to show that there is a general level of raised emission across the entire polar region, in a similar way to that seen at Jupiter. However, with direct observations of the aurora made from orbit around Saturn by the Cassini-VIMS instrument, this aurora was shown to be more than a relative generalised brightening in the infrared. Instead, a unique auroral feature was observed to occur, appearing as a large region of bright polar emission, positioned poleward of 82 degrees latitude. This Bright Polar Aurora emission is significantly different from the recently observed subrotating Q-branch auroral emission seen in both the ultraviolet and infrared, as it is separated from the main auroral oval by a region of low emission. This effectively produces a cap of bright aurora inside the main auroral oval, surrounded by a dark ring that separates the two aurorae. Here, we take a more detailed look at this cap of emission and examine the way the auroral feature develops with time. Bright Polar Aurora emission has been observed in two separate VIMS images. A more detailed analysis of the polar emission shows that each of these images in fact differs in structure; the first has auroral emission across the whole polar cap >82 degrees, but within the second the emission is concentrated on the dusk side. While the dramatic in-filling of the polar cap is not seen within any UV observations, the Hubble Space Telescope has observed transitory duskward auroral features within the polar cap, in a similar location to the duskward feature seen in the infrared. Using ground-based infrared observations, which allow a Bright Polar Aurora event to be broken into shorter timescale steps, it is possible analyse the progression of the infrared auroral emission with time, connecting the morphology seen within the two VIMS images with those in the ultraviolet. [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 detailDeep Impact: Observations from a Worldwide Earth-Based Campaign
Meech, K. J.; Ageorges, N.; A'Hearn, M. F. et al

in Science (2005), 310

On 4 July 2005, many observatories around the world and in space observed the collision of Deep Impact with comet 9P/Tempel 1 or its aftermath. This was an unprecedented coordinated observational campaign ... [more ▼]

On 4 July 2005, many observatories around the world and in space observed the collision of Deep Impact with comet 9P/Tempel 1 or its aftermath. This was an unprecedented coordinated observational campaign. These data show that (i) there was new material after impact that was compositionally different from that seen before impact; (ii) the ratio of dust mass to gas mass in the ejecta was much larger than before impact; (iii) the new activity did not last more than a few days, and by 9 July the comet's behavior was indistinguishable from its pre-impact behavior; and (iv) there were interesting transient phenomena that may be correlated with cratering physics. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimated energy balance in the jovian upper atmosphere during an auroral heating event
Melin, H.; Miller, S.; Stallard, T. et al

Poster (2005)

We present an analysis of a series of observations of the auroral/polar regions of Jupiter, carried out between September 8 and 11, 1998, making use of the high-resolution spectrometer, CSHELL, on the ... [more ▼]

We present an analysis of a series of observations of the auroral/polar regions of Jupiter, carried out between September 8 and 11, 1998, making use of the high-resolution spectrometer, CSHELL, on the NASA InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF), Mauna Kea, Hawaii; these observations spanned an ``auroral heating event". This analysis combines the measured line intensities and ion velocities with a one-dimensional model of the jovian thermosphere/ionosphere (Grodent et al. 2001). We compute the model line intensities both assuming local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) and, relaxing this condition (non-LTE), through detailed balance calculations (Oka et al. 2004), in order to compare with the observations. Taking the model parameters derived, we calculate the changes in heating rate required to account for the modeled temperature profiles that are consistent with the measured line intensities. Comparison of the various heating and cooling terms enables us to investigate the balance of energy inputs into the auroral/polar atmosphere. Increases in Joule heating and ion drag are sufficient to explain the observed heating of the atmosphere; increased particle precipitation makes only a minor heating contribution. But local cooling effects - predominantly H[SUB]3[SUP]+[/SUP][/SUB] radiation-to-space - are shown to be too inefficient to allow the atmosphere to relax back to pre-event thermal conditions. Thus we conclude that this event provides observational, i.e. empirical, evidence that heat must be transported away from the auroral/polar regions by thermally or mechanically driven winds. [less ▲]

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See detailTemperature profiles in Jupiter's upper atmosphere
Melin, H.; Stallard, T.; Miller, S. et al

Poster (2003)

Recently, Stallard and coworkers observed an event in Jupiter's auroral polar regions that resulted in a temperature increase of around 125K during the period of approximately seven jovian rotations [1 ... [more ▼]

Recently, Stallard and coworkers observed an event in Jupiter's auroral polar regions that resulted in a temperature increase of around 125K during the period of approximately seven jovian rotations [1]. This "auroral event" involves a great deal of energy being deposited in the upper atmosphere - up to 250mW m[SUP]-2[/SUP]. Stallard et al. made these measurements using H_3^+ emission lines from the fundamental (v=1 rightarrow 0) and hotband (v=2 rightarrow 1) manifolds around 4μm. In this poster, we use the temperature profiles developed by Grodent and coworkers [2] in their one-dimensional model of the jovian aurorae to demonstrate that the lines used by Stallard et al. are formed at different altitudes in the atmosphere: the hotband is formed higher than the fundamental. We show a series of profiles, based on Grodent {et al.}'s original model that can be used to interpret future jovian spectra. [1] T. Stallard et al., 2002. Icarus 156, 498-514. [2] D. Grodent, J. Hunter Waite Jr. and J.-C. G&{acute;e}rard, 2001. J. Geophys. Res. 106, 12933-12952. [less ▲]

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