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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[66.04] Dust Fluxes and Mass Distribution of Dust Particles at Saturn E Ring from the HRD Instrument on the Cassini Mission.

T. E. Economou, A.J. Tuzzolino ()

Cassini's science payload includes the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) instrument to determine the fluxes and composition of the cosmic dust particles in the vicinity of the Saturn and the Saturnian satellites. The High Rate Detector (HRD) is part of the CDA and its objective is to determine the high rate dust fluxes and mass distribution of the dust particles at the times when the CDA might be saturated.

The HRD instrument is based on the PVDF thin film technology and has been flown on many space missions in the past, most recently on the STARDUST mission to Wilt-2 comet January 2, 2004.

Since the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) last July, the HRD has been returning significant amount of data from the many ring crossing orbits at different distances from the Saturn planet. Especially high rates were registered around the Enceladus orbit suggesting that the Enceladus satellite could be an important source for the dust particles of the E ring. From its eight mass threshold counters the HRD can also determine the mass slope of dust particles over the size range from several microns to about one hundred microns in diameter. However, no dust particles larger than 15-20 microns in diameter were detected yet. The counting rates and the size distribution of the dust particles vary significantly and depend heavily on the geometry with respect to the main ring plane. It seems that the heavier particles are concentrated in a smaller space volume that the lighter particles. Currently the HRD data are being analyzed and cross calibrated with other Cassini instruments.

This work was carried out at the University of Chicago under JPL contract No.961170.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.