Characterization of Dust Particles Near Saturn By Dust-Spacecraft Impact Signals

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Shengyi Ye, Donald A Gurnett and William S Kurth, University of Iowa, Physics and Astronomy, Iowa City, IA, United States
The dusty plasma environment around Enceladus and its orbit plays an important role in the dynamics of Saturn’s magnetosphere. The characteristics of the dust population, e.g. size distribution and density, are crucial to modeling the interaction between dusty plasma and the magnetosphere. During the Cassini Saturn orbit insertion and many E-ring crossings, the Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument has demonstrated ability to measure dust particles in the Saturn system via voltage pulses induced by dust impacts on the spacecraft. In this study, we will show characteristics of dust particles derived from Cassini RPWS observations in Saturn’s magnetosphere, especially during Enceladus flybys and E-ring crossings. We will present dust density profiles of the E-ring and Enceladus plume based on the impact rates measured by the RPWS wideband receiver. The electron density measurement based on plasma oscillations induced by dust impacts will also be shown. The RPWS dust detection complements the measurement of dusty plasma and neutral particles in the vicinity of Enceladus by various instruments aboard Cassini spacecraft, e.g. Cosmic Dust Analyzer, Cassini Plasma Spectrometer, Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer, and the RPWS Langmuir probe.