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A Schumann-like resonance on Titan driven by Saturn's magnetosphere possibly revealed by the Huygens Probe

A Schumann-like resonance on Titan driven by Saturn's magnetosphere possibly revealed by the Huygens Probe

Publication date: 01 November 2007

Authors: Béghin, C., et al.

Journal: Icarus
Volume: 191
Issue: 1
Page: 251-266
Year: 2007

Copyright: Elsevier Inc.

The low-frequency data collected with the antenna of the Permittivity, Wave and Altimetry experiment on board the Huygens Probe that landed on Titan on 14 January 2005 have been thoroughly analyzed considering different possible natural and artificial effects. Although a definite conclusion is still subject to the outcome of complementary inquiries, it results from our analysis that the observations can be explained, for the most part, in term of natural phenomena rather than being artifacts. Extremely-low frequency waves generated in the ionosphere of Titan, driven by the corotating Saturn's frozen plasma flow, are assumed to be the most likely source for the observation of the second eigenmode of a Schumann-like resonance at around 36 Hz in the moon-ionosphere cavity. This particular mode is thought to be enhanced with respect to other harmonics because of the particular location of the landing site with respect to that of the supposed sources. The power budget of the observed wave amplitude seems to be consistent with a rough model of the global current of the wake-ionosphere circuit. Broadband low-frequency noise events which are observed sporadically during the descent are probably due to shot noise on the antenna when the Probe is crossing aerosol clouds, an interpretation supported by post-flight ground tests. Contrary to the situation encountered on Earth, atmospheric lightning does not appear to be the source of a conventional Schumann resonance on Titan.

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