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Aurora on Saturn unlike anything seen before

By Paul Wallis     Nov 13, 2008 in Science
Cassini has discovered that Saturn has a giant aurora at its pole, based on different physics to others on Jupiter and Earth. Speculation is doing more than science at this point, but once again the universe has come up with a puzzle.
Saturn Daily:
"We've never seen an aurora like this elsewhere," said Tom Stallard, a scientist working with Cassini data at the University of Leicester, England. Stallard is lead author of a paper that appears in the Nov. 13 issue of the journal Nature.
"It's not just a ring of auroras like those we've seen at Jupiter or Earth. This aurora covers an enormous area across the pole. Our current ideas on what forms Saturn's aurora predict that this region should be empty, so finding such a bright aurora here is a fantastic surprise."
…Jupiter's main auroral ring, caused by interactions internal to Jupiter's magnetic environment, is constant in size. Saturn's main aurora, which is caused by the solar wind, changes size dramatically as the wind varies. The newly observed aurora at Saturn, however, doesn't fit into either category.
The theory is that Saturn’s magnetosphere is fundamentally different, to achieve this effect.
You’d have to assume that anything which produces a solid, variable aurora was a differently constituted magnetic field, to start with.
The change in sizes obviously refers to a specific reaction, based on either ionic or other electromagnetic relationships. Charged particles can knock out satellites, so something like an atmosphere could be particularly sensitive.
The fact that the reaction is visible in IR spectrums mean it’s a long wage event, so the study is dealing with very high energy level physics. This could be a very long learning curve.
More about Cassini, Saturn, Aurora