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Provan et al (Published on line 20 Feb 2019).pdf (8.66 MB)

Planetary Period Oscillations in Saturn's Magnetosphere: Comparison of Magnetic and SKR Modulation Periods and Phases During Northern Summer to the End of the Cassini Mission

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posted on 2019-06-11, 13:32 authored by G. Provan, L. Lamy, S. W. H. Cowley, E. J. Bunce
We compare periods and phases of Saturn planetary period oscillations determined from Cassini magnetic field and Saturn kilometric radiation (SKR) data from the beginning of 2016 to the end of mission in mid-September 2017, encompassing northern summer solstice in May 2017. Both data sets show that the periods are almost unchanging, varying by only ~ ±0.01 hr about 10.79 hr for the northern system and 10.68 hr for the southern system, close to values attained by mid-2015 after period coalescence between mid-2013 and mid-2014. The mean absolute differences between the magnetic and SKR periods are ~0.0036 hr (~13 s), consistent with estimated magnetic measurement uncertainties, while the overall mean difference is less than 0.001 hr (~2–3 s), at the limit of resolution. The relative phasing between magnetic and SKR modulations is correspondingly near constant and such that the equatorial planetary period oscillation fields of the northern/southern systems point radially outward near-oppositely at ~14.3/2.5 hr local time at corresponding SKR maxima, with upward planetary period oscillation currents located ~2 hr postdawn for both systems, consistent with previous intervals having dawnside spacecraft apoapsides. Southern SKR emissions are found to be significantly dual modulated at both southern and northern periods in data limited to lie well within the southern shadow zone of the northern sources. These northern period modulations are shown to be approximately in phase with those in the northern emissions, consistent with a recent suggestion that bidirectional auroral electron acceleration may generate in phase SKR emissions in both hemispheres.


Work at the University of Leicester was supported by STFC grant ST/N000749/1. L.L. was supported by the CNES. E.J.B. was supported by a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. We thank S. Kellock and the Cassini magnetometer team at Imperial College for the access to processed magnetic field data.



Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 2019,124(2), pp. 1157-1172

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics


American Geophysical Union (AGU), Wiley





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Calibrated magnetic field and radio data from the Cassini mission are available from the NASA Planetary Data System at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (



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