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Keywords:

  • Saturn;
  • radiation belts;
  • solar storms

[1] Radiation belts have been detected in situ at five planets. Only at Earth however has any variability in their intensity been heretofore observed, in indirect response to solar eruptions and high altitude nuclear explosions. The Cassini spacecraft's MIMI/LEMMS instrument has now detected systematic radiation belt variability elsewhere. We report three sudden increases in energetic ion intensity around Saturn, in the vicinity of the moons Dione and Tethys, each lasting for several weeks, in response to interplanetary events caused by solar eruptions. However, the intensifications, which could create temporary satellite atmospheres at the aforementioned moons, were sharply restricted outside the orbit of Tethys. Unlike Earth, Saturn has almost unchanging inner ion radiation belts: due to Saturn's near-symmetrical magnetic field, Tethys and Dione inhibit inward radial transport of energetic ions, shielding the planet's main, inner radiation belt from solar wind influences.