Space Science Seminar: Saturn's magnetosphere - Highlights from 10 years of the Cassini mission

Dr Caitriona Jackman, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton

Thursday 11 December 2014, 1400-1500
Frankland Colloquium Room

The first spacecraft to fly by Saturn were Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Yet these gave us just a mere glimpse of the fascinating environment near Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft, one of the most successful missions of all time, went into orbit about Saturn in 2004, and has now delivered 10 years of amazing scientific discoveries.

I will provide an overview of some of the key discoveries that relate to Saturn's magnetosphere, from the water vapour from Enceladus, to the enigmatic rotation rate, to the presence of dynamic magnetic reconnection events which play a role in mass loss. I will show how what we have learned at Saturn can be compared and contrasted with other planets in our solar system, and even applied beyond, to the case of stellar magnetospheres. Finally I will explain what lies in store for the final 3 years of the Cassini mission, including its dramatic finale.