Title

The composition and structure of the Enceladus plume

Authors

Authors

C. J. Hansen; D. E. Shemansky; L. W. Esposito; A. I. F. Stewart; B. R. Lewis; J. E. Colwell; A. R. Hendrix; R. A. West; J. H. Waite; B. Teolis;B. A. Magee

Comments

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Abbreviated Journal Title

Geophys. Res. Lett.

Keywords

NEUTRAL MASS-SPECTROMETER; CASSINI ION; E-RING; WATER; FRACTURES; DUST; JETS; Geosciences, Multidisciplinary

Abstract

The Cassini Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) observed an occultation of the Sun by the water vapor plume at the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) spectrum is dominated by the spectral signature of H(2)O gas, with a nominal line-of-sight column density of 0.90 +/- 0.23 x 10(16) cm(-2) (upper limit of 1.0 x 10(16) cm(-2)). The upper limit for N(2) is 5 x 10(13) cm(-2), or <0.5% in the plume; the lack of N(2) has significant implications for models of the geochemistry in Enceladus' interior. The inferred rate of water vapor injection into Saturn's magnetosphere is similar to 200 kg/s. The calculated values of H(2)O flux from three occultations observed by UVIS have a standard deviation of 30 kg/s (15%), providing no evidence for substantial short-term variability. Collimated gas jets are detected in the plume with Mach numbers of 5-8, implying vertical gas velocities that exceed 1000 m/sec. Observations at higher altitudes with the Cassini Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer indicate correlated structure in the plume. Our results support the subsurface liquid model, with gas escaping and being accelerated through nozzle-like channels to the surface, and are consistent with recent particle composition results from the Cassini Cosmic Dust Analyzer. Citation: Hansen, C. J., et al. (2011), The composition and structure of the Enceladus plume, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L11202, doi:10.1029/2011GL047415.

Journal Title

Geophysical Research Letters

Volume

38

Publication Date

1-1-2011

Document Type

Article

Language

English

First Page

5

WOS Identifier

WOS:000291541500002

ISSN

0094-8276

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