Fine jet structure of electrically charged grains in Enceladus' plume

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Abstract

[1] By traversing the plume erupting from high southern latitudes on Saturn's moon Enceladus, Cassini orbiter instruments can directly sample the material therein. Cassini Plasma Spectrometer, CAPS, data show that a major plume component comprises previously-undetected particles of nanometer scales and larger that bridge the mass gap between previously observed gaseous species and solid icy grains. This population is electrically charged both negative and positive, indicating that subsurface triboelectric charging, i.e., contact electrification of condensed plume material may occur through mutual collisions within vents. The electric field of Saturn's magnetosphere controls the jets' morphologies, separating particles according to mass and charge. Fine-scale structuring of these particles' spatial distribution correlates with discrete plume jets' sources, and reveals locations of other possible active regions. The observed plume population likely forms a major component of high velocity nanometer particle streams detected outside Saturn's magnetosphere.

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