A re-analysis of the Jovian radio emission as seen by Cassini-RADAR and evidence for time variability

C. Moeckel*, M. Janssen, I. de Pater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


After more than a decade of operation at Titan and Saturn, the Cassini RADAR instrument is considered well understood and calibrated. In light of the recent Juno mission which is exploring the inner magnetosphere and the atmosphere of Jupiter, it is worthwhile to reconsider the original measurements of Cassini at Jupiter. The better instrument knowledge in combination with a better understanding of the ammonia distribution of Jupiter has allowed for revising the synchrotron flux density to 1.10 ± 0.07 Jansky, a factor of 2.5 larger than the initial estimate (Bolton et al., 2002). The forward model reduced uncertainties pertaining to the spacecraft pointing using a Markov-Chain Monte Carlo algorithm and constrained simultaneously a brightness model of Jupiter with a disk-averaged brightness temperature of 158.6 ± 2.4 K and depletion of ammonia at the poles (limb darking coefficient, p = 0.05). The flux density spectrum for the 2001 measurement campaign reveals a depletion of energetic electrons (>30 MeV) in contrast to an undisturbed electron population at lower energies. Comparing the Cassini radio maps to Very Large Array maps revealed a redistribution of energetic particles to higher latitudes, indicating enhanced pitch angle scattering for energetic particles. This kind of behavior has been observed in the terrestrial Van Allen belts and could be caused by the resonance of energetic electrons with electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves. We used a simplified analytic expression to determine the feasibility of this process at Jupiter. Although this process is not feasible under nominal conditions, a 10-fold enhancement of the cold plasma density, caused for example by extreme UV events, or volcanic eruptions on Io, could lead to rapid pitch angle scattering of electrons, and the subsequent removal of these particles by the atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)994-1012
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Jupiter
  • Magnetosphere
  • Radio observations


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