The Location of Magnetic Reconnection at Saturn’s Magnetopause: a Comparison with Earth

Monday, 15 December 2014
William S Lewis1, Stephen Fuselier1, Rudy A Frahm1, Adam Masters2, Joey Mukherjee1, Steven M Petrinec3 and Ilkka Sillanpaa1, (1)Southwest Research Institute San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, United States, (2)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (3)Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Cupertino, CA, United States
Data from the Cassini Electron Spectrometer are used to investigate the location of magnetic reconnection at Saturn's magnetopause. Heated, streaming electron distributions in the boundary layer on the magnetosheath side of the magnetopause are evidence of reconnection and an open magnetopause. A model for the location of reconnection is used to compare the modeled and observed streaming direction of the heated electron distributions. Magnetic reconnection at Saturn's magnetopause is predicted and observed to occur at locations similar to those at Earth's magnetopause. Although not conclusive, the results here are consistent with the expected importance of x-line drifts in suppressing low-shear reconnection. Because of different conditions at Saturn’s magnetopause, this suppression is predicted to be stronger at Saturn than at Earth.