Modeling plasma pressure anisotropy's effect on Saturn's global magnetospheric dynamics

Monday, 15 December 2014
Matt Tilley1, Erika M Harnett2 and Robert Winglee1, (1)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (2)University of Washington Seattle Campus, Earth and Space Sciences, Seattle, WA, United States
A 3D multi-fluid, multi-scale plasma model with a complete treatment of plasma pressure anisotropy is employed to study global magnetospheric dynamics at Saturn. Cassini has observed anisotropies in the Saturnian magnetosphere, and analyses have showed correlations between anisotropy and plasma convection, ring current structure and intensity, confinement of plasma to the equatorial plane, as well as mass transport to the outer magnetosphere. The energization and transport of plasma within Saturn's magnetosphere is impactful upon the induced magnetic environments and atmospheres of potentially habitable satellites such as Enceladus and Titan.

Recent efforts to couple pressure anisotropy with 3D multi-fluid plasma modeling have shown a significant move towards matching observations for simulations of Earth's magnetosphere. Our approach is used to study the effects of plasma pressure anisotropy on global processes of the Saturnian magnetosphere such as identifying the effect of pressure anisotropy on the centrifugal interchange instability. Previous simulation results have not completely replicated all aspects of the structure and formation of the interchange 'fingers' measured by Cassini at Saturn. The related effects of anisotropy, in addition to those mentioned above, include contribution to formation of MHD waves (e.g. reduction of Alfvén wave speed) and formation of firehose and mirror instabilities. An accurate understanding of processes such as the interchange instability is required if a complete picture of mass and energy transport at Saturn is to be realized.

The results presented here will detail how the inclusion of a full treatment of pressure anisotropy for idealized solar wind conditions modifies the interchange structure and shape of the tail current sheet. Simulation results are compared to observations made by Cassini.