Does Saturn’s Magnetosphere Feel the Presence of Titan?

Friday, 19 December 2014
Howard Todd Smith1, Robert E Johnson2, Abigail M Rymer1, Adam Woodson2 and Donald G Mitchell1, (1)Applied Physics Laboratory Johns Hopkins, Laurel, MD, United States, (2)Univ Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, United States
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has been the topic of much interest and mystery. This satellite is the second largest moon in the solar system and is even larger than the planet Mercury. It has a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere and no intrinsic magnetic field. Thus, it was believed that as Titan orbits in Saturn’s outer magnetosphere it serves as the primary source of heavy magnetospheric particles assumed to be dominated by nitrogen. However, HST observations and the last 10 years of Cassini data have revealed that cryogenic plumes from the tiny moon, Enceladus, actually provide the majority of heavy magnetospheric particles which are water-group in composition. Therefore, Titan was demoted to having a relatively minor impact on Saturn’s magnetosphere. However, as more observations become available, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to explain all of the magnetospheric nitrogen observations as originating from Enceladus. For this talk, we review previous observations and findings and then present recent results based on Cassini CAPS and MIMI charged particle observations. We combine these data with modeling to examine the relative impact of Titan in generating magnetospheric particle populations as well as examining outer magnetospheric plasma conditions along Titan’s orbit and during encounters. These further results appear to suggest that Titan may actually be a much more significant component of Saturn’s magnetosphere.