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Charged nanograins in the Enceladus plume
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2012 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research, ISSN 0148-0227, E-ISSN 2156-2202, Vol. 117, A05209- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There have been three Cassini encounters with the south-pole eruptive plume of Enceladus for which the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) had viewing in the spacecraft ram direction. In each case, CAPS detected a cold dense population of heavy charged particles having mass-to-charge (m/q) ratios up to the maximum detectable by CAPS (similar to 10(4) amu/e). These particles are interpreted as singly charged nanometer-sized water-ice grains. Although they are detected with both negative and positive net charges, the former greatly outnumber the latter, at least in the m/q range accessible to CAPS. On the most distant available encounter (E3, March 2008) we derive a net (negative) charge density of up to similar to 2600 e/cm(3) for nanograins, far exceeding the ambient plasma number density, but less than the net (positive) charge density inferred from the RPWS Langmuir probe data during the same plume encounter. Comparison of the CAPS data from the three available encounters is consistent with the idea that the nanograins leave the surface vents largely uncharged, but become increasingly negatively charged by plasma electron impact as they move farther from the satellite. These nanograins provide a potentially potent source of magnetospheric plasma and E-ring material.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 117, A05209- p.
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-174904DOI: 10.1029/2011JA017218ISI: 000303672400001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-174904DiVA: diva2:529524
Available from: 2012-05-30 Created: 2012-05-30 Last updated: 2012-05-30Bibliographically approved

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Wahlund, Jan-Erik
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Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala Division
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