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The Source of Saturn's G Ring

Matthew M. Hedman, Joseph A. Burns, Matthew S. Tiscareno, Carolyn C. Porco, Geraint H. Jones, Elias Roussos, Norbert Krupp, Chris Paranicas and Sascha Kempf
Science
New Series, Vol. 317, No. 5838 (Aug. 3, 2007), pp. 653-656
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20037511
Page Count: 4
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Abstract

The origin of Saturn's narrow G ring has been unclear. We show that it contains a bright arc located 167,495.6 ± 1.3 km from Saturn's center. This longitudinally localized material is trapped in a 7:6 corotation eccentricity resonance with the satellite Mimas. The cameras aboard the Cassini spacecraft mainly observe small (1 to 10 micrometers) dust grains in this region, but a sharp decrease in the flux of energetic electrons measured near this arc requires that it also contain larger (centimeter- to meter-sized) bodies whose total mass is equivalent to that of a ∼100-meter-wide ice-rich moonlet. Collisions into these bodies may generate dust, which subsequently drifts outward to populate the rest of the G ring. Thus, the entire G ring could be derived from an arc of debris held in a resonance with Mimas.

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