Cassini Mission: Dusty Rain falling from Saturn's Rings

Schematic view of the nanometer-sized ring ejecta environment in the vicinity of Saturn
Image Credit: Hsiang-Wen Hsu et al. 2018 (Science)

News from Oct 05, 2018

During the Grand Finale 2016-2017 the Cassini spacecraft dived through the gap between Saturn and its rings several times. Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) measurements of dust fluxes were carried out along the trajectory, indicating that the nanometer-sized particles made up of water ice and silicate originate from the rings, and are whirling into Saturn under the dynamical influence of the planet’s magnetic field.

Co-author of the studies is the newly appointed Professor Frank Postberg of the working group of Planetary Sciences at the Institute of Geological Sciences, who is also Co-Investigator of the CDA experiment on Cassini. The scientists found out impacts of interplanetary dust onto the rings troughs up tiny nano dust grains that then migrates as “ring rain” into Saturn’s atmosphere. The results were published 5 October in the famous journal Science: Hsiang-Wen Hsu et al. 2018 In situ collection of dust grains falling from Saturn's rings into its atmosphere.

For more information, please contact:

  • Prof. Dr. Frank Postberg, Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing,
    Phone: 030 / 838-70508, E-Mail: frank.postberg@fu-berlin.de
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