Special Reports

The Interaction of the Atmosphere of Enceladus with Saturn's Plasma

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Science  10 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5766, pp. 1409-1412
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121061

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During the 14 July 2005 encounter of Cassini with Enceladus, the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer measured strong deflections in the corotating ion flow, commencing at least 27 Enceladus radii (27 × 252.1 kilometers) from Enceladus. The Cassini Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument inferred little plasma density increase near Enceladus. These data are consistent with ion formation via charge exchange and pickup by Saturn's magnetic field. The charge exchange occurs between neutrals in the Enceladus atmosphere and corotating ions in Saturn's inner magnetosphere. Pickup ions are observed near Enceladus, and a total mass loading rate of about 100 kilograms per second (3 × 1027 H2O molecules per second) is inferred.

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