Special Reports

Cassini Dust Measurements at Enceladus and Implications for the Origin of the E Ring

Science  10 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5766, pp. 1416-1418
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121375

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During Cassini's close flyby of Enceladus on 14 July 2005, the High Rate Detector of the Cosmic Dust Analyzer registered micron-sized dust particles enveloping this satellite. The dust impact rate peaked about 1 minute before the closest approach of the spacecraft to the moon. This asymmetric signature is consistent with a locally enhanced dust production in the south polar region of Enceladus. Other Cassini experiments revealed evidence for geophysical activities near Enceladus' south pole: a high surface temperature and a release of water gas. Production or release of dust particles related to these processes may provide the dominant source of Saturn's E ring.

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