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S. Jurac, J. D. Richardson (M.I.T.), M. A. McGrath (Space Telescope Science Institute), V. M. Vasyliunas (Max Planck Institut fur Aeronomie), A. Eviatar (Tel Aviv University)
The discovery of OH in Saturn's inner magnetosphere changed our view of this region from one where plasma dominated the physics to one where neutrals are dominant. The Hubble Space Telescope observations of neutral OH molecules which coexist with, and are precursors of plasma ions, showed that the OH densities are at least an order of magnitude larger than previously estimated. Likely sources, surfaces of icy satellites and rings, which are sputtered by the magnetosphere plasma ions, can produce only a fraction of H2O required to sustain the observed OH cloud. Using the most complete set of HST measurements to date, we re-examine the spatial distribution of the neutral cloud. To constrain the vertical scale length of the neutral cloud, a Monte Carlo simulation is employed. The water molecules ejected from satellites and E-ring are followed in Saturns's gravity field until they are either lost collisionally or ionized. We found that a robust source is needed in the vicinity of Enceladus to explain the observed OH cloud. This work is supported by NASA Planetary Atmospheres grant to MIT.
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