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The Drift-Alfven Model for a Magnetized Plasma Applied to Saturn's Polar Vortices

Tim Erney
Year: 2011 Pages: 2
The hexagon above Saturn's north pole, and its long lived state of equilibrium, may be the result of a pinched plasma column aligned with Saturn's magnetic axis and coupled to the conductive upper atmosphere. Cassini data analyzed by Gurnett et al. describes field aligned currents as a possible mechanism for coupling between magnetospheric plasma and the conductive layer of Saturn's upper atmosphere. The hexagon and its stability can be explained by the drift-Alfv?n model for a magnetized plasma due to the near perfect alignment of Saturn's magnetic and rotational axes. The alignment of the magnetic and rotational axes results in a smooth transfer of angular momentum from magnetized plasma in Saturn's ionosphere to the denser conducting fluid layer of the upper atmosphere's polar circulation.