How Cassini can constrain tidal dissipation in Saturn

Jing Luan, Jim Fuller, Eliot Quataert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Tidal dissipation inside giant planets is important for the orbital evolution of their natural satellites. It is conventionally treated by parametrized equilibrium tidal theory, in which the tidal torque declines rapidly with distance, and orbital expansion was faster in the past. However, some Saturnian satellites are currently migrating outward faster than predicted by equilibrium tidal theory. Resonance locking between satellites and internal oscillations of Saturn naturally matches the observed migration rates. Here, we show that the resonance locking theory predicts dynamical tidal perturbations to Saturn's gravitational field in addition to those produced by equilibrium tidal bulges. We show that these perturbations can likely be detected during Cassini's proximal orbits if migration of satellites results from resonant gravity modes, but will likely be undetectable if migration results from inertial wave attractors or dissipation of the equilibrium tide. Additionally, we show that the detection of gravity modes would place constraints on the size of the hypothetical stably stratified region in Saturn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5002-5014
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Hydrodynamics -waves
  • Planets and satellites: interiors
  • Planets and satellites: physical evolution


Dive into the research topics of 'How Cassini can constrain tidal dissipation in Saturn'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this