37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 65 Planetary Magnetospheres
Oral, Friday, September 9, 2005, 11:00am-12:30pm, Law LG19

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[65.08] Magnetospheric E-field fluctuations at Jupiter and Saturn: a possible resolution of the thermospheric energy crisis?

C. G. A. Smith, A. D. Aylward, S. Miller (University College, London)

The high thermospheric temperatures at Jupiter and Saturn have yet to be thoroughly explained. Joule heating is known to be an important contributor to the energy budget. We show that Joule heating may be significantly increased if the E-fields associated with plasma flows in the magnetosphere fluctuate on short timescales. In particular, fluctuations in the corotating inner magnetosphere would directly heat low and mid-latitudes where there is very little mean-field Joule heating.

We propose that this previously unexplored energy source has the potential to resolve the energy crisis. Using a general circulation model we are able to estimate the magnitude of the fluctuations that are required to reproduce the observed temperatures. We discuss whether the required fluctuations are physically reasonable, and compare our results with terrestrial studies.

CGAS is funded by a UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council CASE Studentship.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
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