Microwave Edge Diffraction by Features in Saturn's Rings: Observations with Voyager 1

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Science  16 Jul 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4556, pp. 243-245
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4556.243


Classical edge diffraction patterns are formed at centimeter wavelengths by several features of Saturn's rings. These patterns were discovered in 3.6-and 13-centimeter radio signals from Voyager 1 during occultation by the rings. The observed shapes are in agreement with theoretical patterns computed for screens of perfectly abrupt edges having large but finite opacity. Comparison with models in which the opacity at the edge tapers to zero from a finite value sets a new bound of less than about 200 meters on the microwave edge thickness. Certain features of the data suggest a smaller upper bound of about 130 meters on the edge thickness.