37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 66 Planetary Rings III
Oral, Friday, September 9, 2005, 2:00-3:30pm, Music Concert Hall

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[66.06] Radiative Evolution of Flash Impact Plumes in Saturn's Rings

L.S. Chambers (UC Santa Cruz), J.N. Cuzzi (NASA Ames), E. Asphaug (UC Santa Cruz)

Over the past decade, flash impacts have been observed on the moon and in the laboratory in both the IR and visible portions of the spectrum. These phenomena have been used to constrain impact parameters, such as impact size, velocity and composition. With the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn, we have embarked on a study of impact flashes in Saturn's rings. Our modeling effort is two-fold. We start by simulating impacts using the CTH hydrodynamical code. Impacts involve two icy objects, modeled with the ANEOS equation of state. The objects are centimeters to meters in diameter and collide at 30 to 50 km/s. We then use the resulting impact plumes in a radiative transfer calculation. Although still in development, our RT calculations have determined that the main continuum opacity sources are free-free and bound-free transitions. We calculate these opacities along a line-of-sight through the impact plumes. At times when the impact plumes are optically thick, we determine the photosphere depth and temperature. At times when the impact plumes are optically thin, a more detailed numerical calculation is needed. Ultimately, the results of this study will be used to investigate the flux of meteoroids impacting Saturn's rings using Cassini's Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS).

This work is supported by a Graduate Student Researchers Program Fellowship from NASA Headquarters, the Cassini project, and a student travel grant from UC's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
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