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Surface waves on Saturn's magnetopause

Masters, Adam and Achilleos, Nick and Cutler, J.C. and Coates, Andrew J. and Dougherty, M.K. and Jones, Geraint H. (2012) Surface waves on Saturn's magnetopause. Planetary and Space Science 65 (1), pp. 109-121. ISSN 0032-0633.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2012.02.007

Abstract

Waves on the surface of a planetary magnetopause promote energy transport into the magnetosphere, representing an important aspect of solar wind-magnetosphere coupling. At Saturn's magnetopause it has been proposed that growth of the Kelvin-Helmholtz (K-H) instability produces greater wave activity on the dawn side of the surface than on the dusk side. We test this hypothesis using data taken by the Cassini spacecraft during crossings of Saturn's magnetopause. Surface orientation perturbations are primarily controlled by the local magnetospheric magnetic field orientation, and are generally greater at dusk than at dawn. 53% of all crossings were part of a sequence of regular oscillations arising in consecutive surface normals that is strong evidence for tailward propagating surface waves, with no detectable local time asymmetry in this phenomenon. We estimate the dominant wave period to be ~5 h at dawn and ~3 h at dusk. The role played by the magnetospheric magnetic field, tailward wave propagation, and the dawn-dusk difference in wave period suggests that K-H instability is a major wave driving mechanism. Using linear K-H theory we estimate the dominant wavelength to be ~10 Saturn radii (RS) and amplitude to be ~1 RS at both dawn and dusk, giving propagation speeds of ~30 and ~50 km s−1 at dawn and dusk, respectively. The lack of the hypothesized dawn-dusk asymmetry in wave activity demonstrates that we need to revise our understanding of the growth of the K-H instability at Saturn's magnetopause, which will have implications for the study of other planetary magnetospheres.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Saturn, Magnetopause, Surface waves, Solar wind-magnetosphere interaction, Kelvin-Helmholtz instability
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences > UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2012 13:58
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2013 09:24
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4604

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