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, R. H. Brown, R. N. Clark, P. D. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

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 1 2011

Keywords

  • Geological processes
  • Satellites, Surfaces
  • Saturn, Satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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