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Response of Saturn's auroral ionosphere to electron precipitation: Electron density, electron temperature, and electrical conductivity

Galand, M; Moore, L; Mueller-Wodarg, I; Mendillo, M; Miller, S; (2011) Response of Saturn's auroral ionosphere to electron precipitation: Electron density, electron temperature, and electrical conductivity. J GEOPHYS RES-SPACE , 116 , Article A09306. 10.1029/2010JA016412.

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Abstract

In the high-latitude regions of Saturn, the ionosphere is strongly coupled to the magnetosphere through the exchange of energy. The influx of energetic particles from Saturn's magnetosphere enhances the ionospheric densities and temperatures, affects the electrodynamical properties of the ionosphere, and contributes to the heating of the thermosphere. It is therefore critical to accurately model the energy deposition of these magnetospheric particles in the upper atmosphere in order to evaluate key ionospheric quantities of the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere system. We present comprehensive results of ionospheric calculations in the auroral regions of Saturn using our Saturn Thermosphere-Ionosphere Model (STIM). We focus on solar minimum conditions during equinox. The atmospheric conditions are derived from the STIM 3-D General Circulation Model. The ionospheric component is self-consistently coupled to the solar and auroral energy deposition component. The precipitating electrons are assumed to have a Maxwellian distribution in energy with a mean energy E-m and an energy flux Q(0). In the presence of hard electron precipitation (1 < E-m <= 20 keV) with Q(0) > 0.04 mW m(-2), the ionospheric conductances are found to be proportional to the square root of the energy flux, but the response of the ionosphere is not instantaneous and a time delay needs to be applied to Q(0) when estimating the conductances. In the presence of soft electron precipitation (E-m < 500 eV) with Q(0) <= 0.2 mW m(-2), the ionospheric conductances at noon are found to be primarily driven by the Sun. However, soft auroral electrons are efficient at increasing the ionospheric total electron content and at heating the thermal electron population.

Type:Article
Title:Response of Saturn's auroral ionosphere to electron precipitation: Electron density, electron temperature, and electrical conductivity
DOI:10.1029/2010JA016412
Keywords:RADIO OCCULTATION MEASUREMENTS, SOLAR EUV EXPERIMENT, POLAR IONOSPHERE, UPPER-ATMOSPHERE, MODEL, THERMOSPHERE, ULTRAVIOLET, JUPITER, MAGNETOSPHERE, CHEMISTRY
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies

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