Strong rapid dipolarizations in Saturn's magnetotail: In situ evidence of reconnection



[1] The oppositely directed magnetic field in the kronian magnetic tail is expected eventually to reconnect across the current sheet, allowing plasma to escape in an anti-solar direction down the tail. This reconnection process accelerates ions and electrons both toward and away from the planet, allowing the magnetotail to relax to a more dipolar configuration. Previous missions to Saturn shed no light on the possible presence of this critical process in the kronian magnetosphere. Recent Cassini measurements of the magnetic field in the magnetotail, reported herein, reveal strong, rapid dipolarizations between 40 and 50 Saturn radii (RS) downtail, signalling the episodic release of energy to the magnetosphere and ions to the solar wind.