Detection and measurement of ice grains and gas distribution in the Enceladus plume by Cassini's Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer

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Abstract

[1] We report on the measurements of the Cassini Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) of the density and structure of Enceladus' south polar plume during the E3 and E5 flybys on 12 March and 9 October 2008. Using a Monte Carlo simulation, we analyze the dependence of the INMS gas inlet transmittance on spacecraft pointing and the effect on the measurements at E3. We apply a finite element analysis to correct for water physisorption in the inlet and obtain a maximum plume density almost twice that suggested by the raw INMS data. The results indicate uniform spreading of the plume vapor from the source with a source rate of at least 100 kg/s. We also analyze the detection of ice grains by the INMS and find that, in contrast to the plume's vapor component, the grains are concentrated within the plume jets seen in Cassini imaging, supporting the suggestion that the jets are composed of fine-grained ice.

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