Gravity wave (GW) signatures have been derived from temperature profiles observed by Cassini/Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph in the Saturnian thermosphere during the Grand Finale campaign. They demonstrate upward propagation of GW packets, their saturation, and breaking. We determined wave amplitudes, potential energy, and momentum fluxes and estimated the associated wave drag imposed by dissipating harmonics on the ambient flow. The data set of 18 profiles covers the middle and high latitudes of both hemispheres, which allows for exploring the global impact of waves. The diagnostics based on the Transformed Eulerian Mean and modified geostrophy approach reveal that the GW drag induces an equatorward flow in both hemispheres, facilitating transport of heat away from the auroral zones and redistributing energy across latitudes. Like all the outer planets, Saturn's thermosphere is hundreds of degrees hotter than what follows from radiative balance and these results help to explain the observed temperatures at all latitudes.
- giant planet
- gravity waves
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)