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SPEARS Seminar: Ion pickup in the Solar System

Professor Andrew Coates, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London

Monday 16 April 2012, 1500-1600
Lecture Theatre, Charles Carter Building (A15)

Ion pickup provides the key mechanism by which comets interact with the solar wind. Following ionization of neutral particles, the new-born ions are accelerated in the convection electric field and gyrate around the magnetic field -- forming a cycloid in real space and an unstable ring in velocity space.

Pickup is also present at most other planetary objects, and there are recent data from Mars, Venus, Titan, Enceladus, Rhea, Dione and Saturn's neutral-dominated magnetosphere.

Here, we briefly review the pickup process and present examples of pickup ions at all these objects. We also consider their role in atmospheric escape. We look forward to future missions where pickup will play a key role such as Rosetta and JUICE.