Pallene dust torus

Monday, 15 December 2014
Martin Seiss1, Ralf Srama2, Sascha Kempf3, Kai-Lung Sun1, Michael Seiler1, Manuel Sachse1, Georg Moragas-Klostermeyer2 and Frank Spahn1, (1)University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany, (2)University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany, (3)LASP/University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
The tiny moon Pallene (diameter < 5 km, semi-major axis 212,000 km) orbits between Saturn's moons Mimas and Enceladus. The ISS cameras on board the Cassini spacecraft have detected a faint dust torus along its inclined orbit (Hedman, 2009). The source of the torus is believed to be the moon itself, where dust particles are ejected from the surface by micrometeoroid bombardment.

Here we present in-situ dust measurements of the Cosmic Dust Analyser (CDA) on-board the spacecraft Cassini which confirm a dust torus of micrometer-sized particles along the orbit of Pallene. The cross-section of the torus has been modeled with a double-Gaussian distribution, resulting in a radial and vertical full width at half maximum of 2300 km and 270 km and a maximum particle density of n = 2.7 10-3 m-3. Additionally, the data show an enhancement of larger particle in the torus in comparison to the background E-ring size distribution.

The radial mean position of the torus is radially shifted outwards by around 1200 km in all flybys. This could point to a systematic larger semi-major axes of the dust particles (in comparison to Pallene) or a possible heliotropic appearance of the torus (all flybys in anti-solar direction).