37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 60 Planetary Magnetospheres
Poster, Thursday, September 8, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Foyer

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[60.11] A Model of the Ionosphere of Saturn's Rings and its Implications

J.G. Luhmann (Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley), R.E. Johnson (University of Virginia), R.L. Tokar (Los Alamos National Laboratory), S.A. Ledvina (Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley), T.E. Cravens (University of Kansas)

The detection of cold O2+ and O+ ions in the vicinity of Saturn's rings during the Cassini Orbiter orbit insertion confirmed expectations that the rings would have a water product atmosphere and ionosphere. These observations prompted a new look at their origin and nature by Johnson et al. (2005), but also raised questions about the ionosphere's spatial distribution and fate that inspired the ionospheric model described in this report. Here a test particle model with some Monte-Carlo aspects is used to consider the behavior the O2+ and O+ ions produced in the atmosphere of Saturn's rings. Key features of these calculations include the Johnson et al. description of the production of the ring atmosphere, and the effects of the offset dipole magnetic field of Saturn. The results suggest that the latter should produce some possibly observable asymmetries in both the inner ring ionosphere and the precipitation of ring ions into the atmosphere of Saturn. Further in-situ observations of the rings are not currently planned, but remote sensing instruments on Cassini may provide future observational tests of the model.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.