Charging of ice grains in Saturn’s E ring: theory and observations




We have developed a theoretical model for a physical understanding of the charging of ice grains in the plasma of Saturn’s E ring. The evaluated results are compared with the available observations and measurements from the Cassini, Hubble Space Telescope, Voyager and Pioneer campaigns. In this formulation, we implement the uniform potential theory, taking into account the size distribution of ice grains, in order to investigate the charging kinetics. The analysis is based on the number and energy balance of the constituents with inherent charge neutrality in the complex plasma system. In this paper, we incorporate pure ice as well as sodium-enriched ice particles. For computational purposes, we have considered only the plasma environment near the orbits of Saturn’s icy moons. As an interesting feature, the theory explains the observed range of potential on the ice grains in Saturn’s E ring. The available data on the plasma of Saturn’s E ring and the size distribution of ice particles have been used in the computations.