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The Dust Halo of Saturn's Largest Icy Moon, Rhea

Science  07 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5868, pp. 1380-1384
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151524

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Abstract

Saturn's moon Rhea had been considered massive enough to retain a thin, externally generated atmosphere capable of locally affecting Saturn's magnetosphere. The Cassini spacecraft's in situ observations reveal that energetic electrons are depleted in the moon's vicinity. The absence of a substantial exosphere implies that Rhea's magnetospheric interaction region, rather than being exclusively induced by sputtered gas and its products, likely contains solid material that can absorb magnetospheric particles. Combined observations from several instruments suggest that this material is in the form of grains and boulders up to several decimetres in size and orbits Rhea as an equatorial debris disk. Within this disk may reside denser, discrete rings or arcs of material.

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