Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Ice Giant Systems Seminar Series: Dr. Adam Masters
Presenter: Dr. Adam Masters (Imperial College London)
Topic: Uranus' extreme and unusual magnetosphere
Abstract: Uranus is the first of the ice giant planets, orbiting the Sun ~19 times farther than the Earth. The solar wind continually bombards the planet, which is shielded by its internally generated magnetic field. This creates a large, dynamic, and invisible environment of magnetic fields and charged particles around Uranus that we refer to as the planetary magnetosphere. Understanding this complex system is a core element of understanding how energy flows through the entire planetary system, and Uranus' magnetosphere is both extreme and unusual in many respects. I will review what we currently know about Uranus' magnetosphere, which is largely based on a single spacecraft encounter by Voyager 2 in 1986. I will highlight what makes this magnetosphere so extreme and unusual, reviewing topics including the solar wind interaction, magnetospheric dynamics, the radiation belts, and the asymmetric field of Uranus itself. A future Uranus orbiter would provide a route to answering the many open questions in this field.