Monday, May 23, 2005

Enceladus, Curiouser and Curiouser

Last month, Zibi Turtle of the Imaging team and Marcia Burton of the Magnetometer team gave presentations at the monthly CHARM telecon, this time on Enceladus. They presented the findings of their respective teams from the two Enceladus encounters that took place in February and March. Burton presented findings related to ion cyclotron waves and magnetic signature. The magnetometer team found ion cyclotron waves throughout the inner magnetosphere, but these waves were most intense near Enceladus. The frequency of the waves can be used to determine the types of ion species that caused the waves, in this case O+, OH+, and H2O+. In addition, their intensity can be used to determine production rate since the waves are produced when neutral species are ionized and are "picked up" by the magnetic field, in this case 125 kg/sec. These results leads to the conclusion that the Enceladus environment is a large supplier of water and oxygen to the Saturnian system outside of the rings. The other interesting result has to do with hints of a magnetic signature found near Enceladus. The exact nature of this "signature" was not explained (nor likely known) but a very close flyby on July 14 should help to pin that down.

The ISS talk was on the types of land forms seen by the imager during the two flybys (though most of the images used come from the first encounter). Chewed up craters, fractures, kilometer-high domes, and ridges appear to be the highlights of the presentation. Still need to listen to the talk to see what Zibi did actually say...

Speaking of Enceladus, watch out for possible observations of Enceladus taken during the non-targeted encounter over the weekend. The presentation gives a distance of 93,000 km on the encounter. Not very high, but good enough to get an idea of what is going on at the south pole.


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