The exospheric systems of Saturn's rings

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34 Scopus citations


Because of collisional interaction with interplanetary meteoroids, the ring system of Saturn is supposedly a major source of neutral gas cloud in the inner saturnian system. We consider some new features brought about by the asymmetric impact geometry of the ring-meteoroid interaction. An assessment is also attempted on the most likely spatial structure and neutral gas number density distribution of the ring exosphere. A meteoroid-impact gas production rate of 5 × 1027 molecules/sec which is a factor of 100 lower than the maximum value previously derived is preferred in the present work. The maximum density of the H2O molecules in the vicinity of the B ring is about 100 cm-3. Finally, because of gas-surface interaction in the ring environment a thin disc of oxygen molecules might form as one of the major components of the ring exosphere with a density of about 3000 cm-3. This molecular oxygen cloud, if it exists, would in turn supply a flux of oxygen atoms via photodissociation to the orbital region of the icy satellites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-303
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995


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