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Topical Review

Table 3.

Characteristic parameters of Solar System magnetospheres determining planetary space weather. Adapted from Bagenal (2013) and Krupp (2015).

Solar System body Magnetopause nose distance Surface magnetic field at the equator (T) Dipole tilt1 Obliquity2 Plasma sources3 Plasma composition (main species) Plasma motion Plasma β 4 Lifetime
Neptune 24 RN 0.14 × 10−4 −47° 29.6° Triton (solar wind?) N+, H+ Rotation (and solar wind driven?) 0.2 days
Uranus 25 RU 0.23 × 10−4 −59° 97.9° Ionosphere (solar wind) H+ Solar wind driven and rotation 0.1 1–30 days
Saturn 19 RS 0.22 × 10−4 −0° 26.7° Enceladus (Rings, Tethys, Dione, Titan, solar wind)6 H2O+, O+, H+ Rotation 1–5 30–50 days
Jupiter 42 RJ 4.28 × 10−4 −9.6° 3.1° Io, Europa (ionosphere)7 On+, Sn+, H+ Rotation 10–100 20–80 days
Mercury 1.4–1.6 RM 2 × 10−7 +14° Solar wind H+ Solar wind driven ~28 Minutes
Ganymede ~2 RG 7.19 × 10−7 5 176° 0.2° Jupiter’s magnetosphere (Ganymede’s exosphere) On+, Sn+, H+ Corotation (Jupiter’s magnetosphere driven) 0.49 Min to hours9

Angle between the magnetic and rotation axes.


Inclination of the planet’s equator to the orbit.


The dominant plasma sources are indicated. In parenthesis we indicate the believed secondary plasma sources.


The plasma β parameter is defined as the ratio of plasma pressure to magnetic pressure, β = nkT/(B2/2μ0).


Temporal analysis of the auroral power of Ganymede’s footprint reveals variations of different timescales: (a) a 5-h timescale, associated with the periodic flapping of Jupiter’s plasma sheet over Ganymede; (b) a 10–40 min timescale, possibly associated with energetic magnetospheric events, such as plasma injections; (c) a 100-s timescale corresponding to quasi periodic fluctuations, which might relate to bursty reconnections on Ganymede’s magnetopause and/or to the recurrent presence of acceleration structures above Jupiter’s atmosphere. From Grodent et al. (2009).

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