Investigating Fresh Hot Plasma Injections in Saturn's Inner-Magnetosphere

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Kaitlyn Loftus1,2, Jon Duane Vandegriff2, Abigail M Rymer2 and Donald G Mitchell3, (1)Columbia University of New York, New York, NY, United States, (2)Applied Physics Laboratory Johns Hopkins, Laurel, MD, United States, (3)JHU/APL, Laurel, MD, United States
A decreasing density gradient in Saturn’s plasma disk allows for centrifugal interchange instability between the dense, heavy plasma inside 10 Rs and the lighter plasma outside. This instability results in the less dense plasma of the mid-magnetosphere moving inward to the inner-magnetosphere. As flux tubes move inward, their volume decreases, and the contained plasma heats adiabatically. Most studies of interchange have focused on older events that have had time to gradient and curvature drift such that they are easily identified by a characteristic “V” energy dispersion signature in the ion and electron data [e.g. Hill et al., 2005; Chen et al., 2010]. Recently, Kennelly et al. (2013) used radio wave data to identify >300 possible “fresh” injection events. These are characterized in the plasma data by a bite-out at low energies, an enhancement at high energies, and little to no energy dispersion. Our study builds on the Kennelly et al. study to investigate the shape and frequency of injection events in order to better characterize how hot plasma transports into the inner magnetosphere. In most models of centrifugal interchange at Saturn, the time and spatial scales for inward and outward transport are fairly symmetric, but Cassini data suggests that inward injections of plasma move at much greater velocity and in narrower flow channels than their outgoing counterparts. Here we investigate the morphology of Kronian inward injection events to see if our dataset of young injections can inform on whether the inward injections are extended fingers or more like “bubbles”, isolated flux tubes. Specifically, we apply minimum variance analysis to Cassini magnetic field data to determine the boundary normals at the spacecraft’s entrance and exit points for each event, from which we can statistically analyze the structure’s cross section. We will present our initial results on the morphology as well as the distribution of the injections over radial distance, latitude, and local time.