Detection of Centimeter-Sized Meteoroid Impact Events in Saturn's F Ring

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Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1099-1102
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1099

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Voyager images reveal that three prominent clumps in Saturn's F ring were short-lived, appearing rapidly and then spreading and decaying in brightness over periods of ∼2 weeks. These features arise from hypervelocity impacts by ∼10-centimeter meteoroids into F ring bodies. Future ring observations of these impact events could constrain the centimeter-sized component of the meteoroid population, which is otherwise unmeasurable but plays an important role in the evolution of rings and surfaces in the outer solar system. The F ring's numerous other clumps are much longer lived and appear to be unrelated to impacts.

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