Search for and limits on plume activity on Mimas, Tethys, and Dione with the Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS)

B. J. Buratti, S. P. Faulk, J. Mosher, K. H. Baines, Robert H. Brown, R. N. Clark, P. D. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) observations of Mimas, Tethys, and Dione obtained during the nominal and extended missions at large solar phase angles were analyzed to search for plume activity. No forward scattered peaks in the solar phase curves of these satellites were detected. The upper limit on water vapor production for Mimas and Tethys is one order of magnitude less than the production for Enceladus. For Dione, the upper limit is two orders of magnitude less, suggesting this world is as inert as Rhea (Pitman, K.M., Buratti, B.J., Mosher, J.A., Bauer, J.M., Momary, T., Brown, R.H., Nicholson, P.D., Hedman, M.M. [2008]. Astrophys. J. Lett. 680, L65-L68). Although the plumes are best seen at ∼2.0. μm, Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) Narrow Angle Camera images obtained at the same time as the VIMS data were also inspected for these features. None of the Cassini ISS images shows evidence for plumes. The absence of evidence for any Enceladus-like plumes on the medium-sized saturnian satellites cannot absolutely rule out current geologic activity. The activity may below our threshold of detection, or it may be occurring but not captured on the handful of observations at large solar phase angles obtained for each moon. Many VIMS and ISS images of Enceladus at large solar phase angles, for example, do not contain plumes, as the active "tiger stripes" in the south pole region are pointed away from the spacecraft at these times. The 7-year Cassini Solstice Mission is scheduled to gather additional measurements at large solar phase angles that are capable of revealing activity on the saturnian moons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-540
Number of pages7
JournalIcarus
Volume214
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Fingerprint

Mimas
Tethys
Dione
plumes
Enceladus
spectrometer
plume
spectrometers
phase shift
natural satellites
Moon
solstices
water vapor
spacecraft
poles
cameras
thresholds
curves
science

Keywords

  • Geological processes
  • Satellites, Surfaces
  • Saturn, Satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Search for and limits on plume activity on Mimas, Tethys, and Dione with the Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS). / Buratti, B. J.; Faulk, S. P.; Mosher, J.; Baines, K. H.; Brown, Robert H.; Clark, R. N.; Nicholson, P. D.

In: Icarus, Vol. 214, No. 2, 08.2011, p. 534-540.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Buratti, B. J. ; Faulk, S. P. ; Mosher, J. ; Baines, K. H. ; Brown, Robert H. ; Clark, R. N. ; Nicholson, P. D. / Search for and limits on plume activity on Mimas, Tethys, and Dione with the Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS). In: Icarus. 2011 ; Vol. 214, No. 2. pp. 534-540.
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abstract = "Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) observations of Mimas, Tethys, and Dione obtained during the nominal and extended missions at large solar phase angles were analyzed to search for plume activity. No forward scattered peaks in the solar phase curves of these satellites were detected. The upper limit on water vapor production for Mimas and Tethys is one order of magnitude less than the production for Enceladus. For Dione, the upper limit is two orders of magnitude less, suggesting this world is as inert as Rhea (Pitman, K.M., Buratti, B.J., Mosher, J.A., Bauer, J.M., Momary, T., Brown, R.H., Nicholson, P.D., Hedman, M.M. [2008]. Astrophys. J. Lett. 680, L65-L68). Although the plumes are best seen at ∼2.0. μm, Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) Narrow Angle Camera images obtained at the same time as the VIMS data were also inspected for these features. None of the Cassini ISS images shows evidence for plumes. The absence of evidence for any Enceladus-like plumes on the medium-sized saturnian satellites cannot absolutely rule out current geologic activity. The activity may below our threshold of detection, or it may be occurring but not captured on the handful of observations at large solar phase angles obtained for each moon. Many VIMS and ISS images of Enceladus at large solar phase angles, for example, do not contain plumes, as the active {"}tiger stripes{"} in the south pole region are pointed away from the spacecraft at these times. The 7-year Cassini Solstice Mission is scheduled to gather additional measurements at large solar phase angles that are capable of revealing activity on the saturnian moons.",
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