The Statistical Morphology of Saturn’s Equatorial Energetic Neutral Atom Emission

J. Kinrade, A. Bader, S. V. Badman, C. Paranicas, D. G. Mitchell, D. Constable, C. S. Arridge, S. W.H. Cowley, G. Provan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Saturn’s magnetosphere is an efficient emitter of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs), created through charge exchange of energetic ions with the extended neutral cloud originating from the icy moon Enceladus. We present an analysis using the complete image set captured by Cassini’s Ion Neutral Camera to characterize Saturn’s average ENA morphology. Concentric tori are formed around the planet by oxygen and hydrogen ENAs, with intensity peaks between 7 and 10 RS radial distance, with a ∼1–2 RS dayside offset. Nightside intensity is brighter than the dayside, likely the result of enhancements following large-scale plasma injections from the magnetotail, and influence of the noon-midnight electric field. Global intensity is clearly modulated with the near-planetary rotation period. This Cassini-era profile of Saturn’s ENA emission advances our understanding of how volcanic moons can influence plasma dynamics in giant magnetospheres and is timely ahead of the planned JUICE mission, which carries the first dedicated ENA detector to Jupiter.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL091595
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2021


  • Cassini INCA
  • energetic neutral atoms
  • Saturn’s magnetosphere


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