Characteristics of the dust-plasma interaction near Enceladus' South Pole
2011 (English)In: Planetary and Space Science, ISSN 0032-0633, E-ISSN 1873-5088, Vol. 59, no 1, 17-25 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We present RPWS Langmuir probe data from the third Enceladus flyby (E3) showing the presence of dusty plasma near Enceladus' South Pole. There is a sharp rise in both the electron and ion number densities when the spacecraft traverses through Enceladus plume. The ion density near Enceladus is found to increase abruptly from about 10(2) cm(-3) before the closest approach to 10(5) cm(-3) just 30 s after the closest approach, an amount two orders of magnitude higher than the electron density. Assuming that the inconsistency between the electron and ion number densities is due to the presence of dust particles that are collecting the missing electron charges, we present dusty plasma characteristics down to sub-micron particle sizes. By assuming a differential dust number density for a range in dust sizes and by making use of Langmuir probe data, the dust densities for certain lower limits in dust size distribution were estimated. In order to achieve the dust densities of micrometer and larger sized grains comparable to the ones reported in the literature, we show that the power law size distribution must hold down to at least 0.03 mu m such that the total differential number density is dominated by the smallest sub-micron sized grains. The total dust number density in Enceladus' plume is of the order of 10(2) cm(-3) reducing to 1 cm(-3) in the E-ring. The dust density for micrometer and larger sized grains is estimated to be about 10(-4) cm(-3) in the plume while it is about 10(-6)-10(-7) cm(-3) in the E-ring. Dust charge for micron sized grains is estimated to be about eight thousand electron charges reducing to below one hundred electron charges for 0.03 mu m sized grains. The effective dusty plasma Debye length is estimated and compared with intergrain distance as well as the electron Debye length. The maximum dust charging time of 1.4 h is found for 0.03 mu m sized grains just 1 min before the closest approach. The charging time decreases substantially in the plume where it is only a fraction of a second for 1 mu m sized grains, 1 s for 0.1 mu m sized grains and about 10 s for 0.03 mu m sized grains.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 59, no 1, 17-25 p.
Saturn magnetosphere, E-ring, Enceladus plume, Dusty plasma, Cassini, RPWS Langmuir probe
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-147769DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2010.10.006ISI: 000286541800003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-147769DiVA: diva2:400998