TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 64 (No. 2), pp. 207-230, 2012

The orientation of Titan's dayside ionosphere and its effects on Titan's plasma interaction

Stephen A. Ledvina1, Stephen H. Brecht2, and Thomas E. Cravens3

1Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, 7 Gauss Way, Berkeley, CA, USA
2Bay Area Research Corp. P.O. Box 366, Orinda, CA 94563, USA
3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA

(Received March 16, 2011; Revised July 29, 2011; Accepted August 3, 2011; Online published March 8, 2012)

Abstract: A hybrid particle code has been used to examine how Titan's interaction with Saturn's magnetosphere is effected by the orientation of the dayside ionosphere with respect to the incident magnetospheric flow. The hybrid code self-consistently includes a version of Titan's ionosphere represented by 7 generic ion species, over 40 ion-neutral chemical reactions, ion-neutral collisions and Hall and Pederson conductivities. Emphasis is placed on what effects the orientation angle has on the ion loss rates, ion densities, and the electric and magnetic fields. The results are analyzed and regardless of the orientation angle the ionosphere is found to be within photochemical equilibrium below 1200 km altitude. The ion loss rates and field structures also show little dependence on the orientation of the dayside ionosphere. It is found to first order illumination angle does not have a significant effect on these features of the Titan interaction.
Key words: Titan, ionosphere, plasma interaction with Saturn's magnetosphere.

Corresponding author E-mail: ledvina@ssl.berkeley.edu

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