Unveiling Saturn’s Secrets: Eclipses Reveal Ring Transparency

Groundbreaking Science Emerges from Ultra Close Orbits of Saturn

A researcher has innovatively measured the optical depth of Saturn’s rings using Cassini spacecraft data, providing new insights into their transparency and structure. (Illustration of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn.) Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A Lancaster University PhD student has measured the optical depth of Saturn’s rings using a new method based on how much sunlight reached the Cassini spacecraft while it was in the shadow of the rings.

The optical depth is connected to the transparency of an object, and it shows how far light can travel through that object before it gets absorbed or scattered.

Cassini Mission and Research Collaboration

The research, led by Lancaster University in collaboration with the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, was recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The NASA-ESA Cassini spacecraft was launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in 2004, carrying out the most extensive survey of the planet and its moons to date. The mission ended in 2017 when Cassini plunged into the Saturnian atmosphere, after diving 22 times between the planet and its rings.

Video of the Cassini spacecraft moving through the plane of Saturn’s ring system, created by George Xystouris using NASA Eyes. Credit: NASA/JPL

Methodology and Findings

Lancaster University PhD student George Xystouris, under the supervision of Dr. Chris Arridge, analyzed historic data from the Langmuir Probe onboard Cassini, an instrument that was measuring the cold plasma, i.e., low energy ions and electrons, in the magnetosphere of Saturn.

For their study, they focused on solar eclipses of the spacecraft: periods where Cassini was in the shadow of Saturn or the main rings. During each eclipse, the Langmuir Probe recorded dramatic changes in the data.

George said: “As the probe is metallic, whenever it is sunlit, the sunlight can give enough energy to the probe to release electrons. This is the photoelectric effect, and the electrons that are released are so-called ‘photoelectrons. They can create problems though, as they have the same properties as the electrons in the cold plasma around Saturn and there is not an easy way to separate the two.”

“Focusing on the data variations we realized that they were connected with how much sunlight each ring would allow to pass. Eventually, using the properties of the material that the Langmuir Probe was made of, and how bright the Sun was in Saturn’s neighborhood, we managed to calculate the change in the photoelectrons number for each ring, and calculate the optical depth of Saturn’s rings.

“This was a novel and exciting result! We used an instrument that is mainly used for plasma measurements to measure a planetary feature, which is a unique use of the Langmuir Probe, and our results agreed with studies that used high-resolution imagers to measure the transparency of the rings.”

Future Visibility of Saturn’s Rings

Τhe main rings, which extend up to 140,000 km (90,000 miles) from the planet, but have a maximum thickness of only 1 km (0.6 miles), are to disappear from view from Earth by 2025. In that year the rings will be tilted edge-on to Earth, making it almost impossible to view them. They will tilt back towards Earth during the next phase of Saturn’s 29-year orbit and will continue to become more visible and brighter until 2032.

Professor Mike Edmunds, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, added: “It is always good to see a postgraduate student involved in using space probe instrumentation in an unusual and inventive way. Innovation of this kind is just what is needed in astronomical research – and an approach which many former students who are in a variety of careers are applying to help address the world’s problems.”

Reference: “Estimating the optical depth of Saturn’s main rings using the Cassini Langmuir Probe” by Georgios Xystouris, Christopher S Arridge, Michiko M Morooka and Jan-Erik Wahlund, 18 September 2023, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stad2793

2 Comments on "Unveiling Saturn’s Secrets: Eclipses Reveal Ring Transparency"

  1. mehrdad aghakasiri tehran 00989332197646 | November 14, 2023 at 4:50 am | Reply

    The position of the sun is in one of the two big arms of the galaxy, now the sun is passing and hits the arm of the galaxy, this happens again and in fact the life of the earth is renewed, that is, it does notdisappear completely because every This happens once in a hundred million years, because the galaxy has two openings, that’s why we say that this incident has been repeated for a hundred million years.This happens, and a hundred million years is a very long time, and in this long time, life on earth is alive.And they realized that before them there were people living on the earth who also formed the continents and seas for people.Some time ago they lived on earth and gave us this message so that we know this is important.I mean that life appeared on earth several times and was destroyed again and continents and seas were created by civilized humans before us and before them.who had formed the earth in a few hundred million years and the last civilization in a hundred million years ago, their lives were also destroyed.Several advanced civilizations on the earth were destroyed due to the collision of countless stars of the galaxy with the solar system in a few hundred million years ago.became.

    In the map of the Americas, the bird flying over the Americas was unable to take off due to a meteor hitting its left wing from the said planet and a star that hit the sun and then disintegrated.And they could not go from earth to space, that bird photo tells about this sad incident that informed us to be alert and think of a solution to prevent this incident and it is strange and amazing that in America it is true that now more flights aremade.In space they portrayed the role of the flying bird and the tribal chief in North and South America, but in the other three great continents of the world, Asia, Europe and Africa, there is now conflict, war and war and killing and looting.An Arab or a black man wounds a camel’s breast with the fork of a man whose club is the Red Sea, and takes the head of an animal for its horn.The same is true of the horn of Africa.An image of a horn sitting on the face and forehead of a rhinoceros on a map.There is the whole continent of Africa, and it is strange and amazing that elephants and rhinoceroses have been killed and their heads cut off in the continent of Africa.The elephant with the trunk in front of him grabbed the man’s hand by their expensive horns and the map of the country of Khartoon Khartoon There is an elephant holding the Arab man’s hand with his trunk so that he does not grab the head of the rhinoceros andtear the camel’s chest and the tip of the man’s machete touches the camel’s chest, and the name of that region is Giza.In Persian, Giza means wound.Go to the world map and Look at the red sea, there is the machete of an invading man, the tip of the machete is right near Giza, these are the wonders of the supernatural world.I have already explained this in my comments for this site.Please send me a detailed message because the Islamic Republic of Iran may have blocked my email and the problem is from somewhere else.Dr. Mehrdad from America, send me an SMS.I am waiting for your message.I have the position of the sun in Now, in the middle of the big arm of the galaxy, I calculated the distance from the sun to the nearest star to be forty trillion kilometers.Earth’s life may be renewed in a few thousand years.They’re moving fast.Anyone in America know how to send me the velocities of the two giant arms of the galaxy, then I’ll tell you exactly how to calculate the estimated speed and distance.In a few years, a collision will happen.Dear administrators of this very interesting website, thank you for your efforts and your comments.Thank you for posting this comment or other comments on the NASA site, because foreign sites are blocked by the dictatorial Republic of Iran, especially the Americans of the Hezbollah regime of Iran.and I can never comment on those sites.I found the scitech daily site with difficulty, and most of our sites writers and astronomers have access to the world’s major sites due to severe filtering by Iranian mullahs and the leader of the Haram Loqme mullahs.do not have

  2. mehrdad aghakasiri tehran 00989332197646 | November 18, 2023 at 8:12 am | Reply

    The events and changes that have occurred in the planets, moons and solar bodies due to the formation of meteorites are the disintegration of the planets that came to our sun from the arm of the galaxy and collided with the sun and the earth. It has been a long time in the past. The Milky Way has become a solar mass for us earthlings due to the collision of stars and planets, but defining this requires a lot of explanation about how the stars of the two arms of the galaxy approach the Sun and the giant. Gas planets collided with Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. They created hydrogen gas in these gas planets, and the rotation of these four giant gas planets caused hundreds of stars that were about a hundred times smaller than the Sun to collide with the surface of these gas planets. The four giant planets move faster and sooner than it takes 24 hours for the Earth to rotate. When I realized that in the solar system, first the outer planets and then the inner and rocky planets, very small stars collide with the surface of gases, I found a law about star-to-planet collisions and planet-to-planet collisions. . Planets and minor planet collisions have occurred. For planets close to the Sun, like Venus and Mercury, whenever a star collides with a planet, the speed of the planet, like Jupiter, gets faster and faster. Jupiter is now traveling at 4,500,000 km/h due to collisions with about a hundred stars much smaller than the Sun. See, in less than ten hours, that is, nine and a half hours, although Jupiter is far from the Sun, it moves much faster than the Earth. The Earth is rotating, so it turns out that I correctly understood that the reason Jupiter rotates so quickly is due to the collision of small stars in the arm of the galaxy, which rotates faster than Mars and Earth. Jupiter rotates at twenty-five times the speed of Earth. Now, the second law, whenever a planet collides with a planet, the rotation of the planet either stops or becomes slower and slower like Venus, and the number of partial collisions of the planet is more than one, causing Venus to reverse its rotation. . Around itself and a day and night on Venus lasts 243 days, this is a very long time. For one day and night on Venus, the reason for these two things I said, I can prove that the mass and weight of the sun is one hundred times the stars of the arm of the galaxy, at least three hundred and thirty stars. Those three hundred and thirty stars, along with the planets of those stars that formed a system, came from the arm of the galaxy towards the sun, and unfortunately they collided with the sun and the objects of the solar system over several billion years. You astronomers still don’t understand this importance and you can’t believe that another star will come close to the sun, let alone collide with it, it is so important, complex and amazing that its importance has no limits.

    Dear Mir, this site is very interesting and excellent, which contains the comments of the audience and my comment that I wrote on November 14th about the collision of stars and giants much smaller than the Shams system, which collided with the solar bodies from the twobig arms of the galaxy and caused the destruction of both.They became civilized in my land.I have been researching astronomy for more than 45 years, and I have been writing articles about astronomy for ten years, and I have written books about the religions of the Arabs and the world, especially Iran, after researching and studying the holy books.My world is based on the concept of the eight surahs that God had inspired and revealed to me in a period of nearly two years, from the summary of the eight surahs that God has given me since 2010 after seeing and appearing to Jesus Christ and someelders.The world that I cannot describe, they appeared to me in a veil, and I realized that I had to write a book, and I wrote those eight surahs, which are in the form of verses of seven verses and eight verses, etc.,which are related to the fate of the earth.And there have been incidents that happened to Iranians and the Iran-Iraq war in Surah Yaghiyan and Surah Ramadan and in Surah the Prophet which is the fourth surah, about the bravery of Cyrus and the Iranians and the introduction of the great prophet of Iran,the story of the situation is narrated and told in these surahs in the form of poetry.Because I am a poet, maybe God chooses poets to write a surah that has a rhyme that is easy to read, that surah that people can easily learn.A surah is also the surahs of the Qur’an, not all the surahs of the Qur’an.There is a verse of poets, such as Qal Hu Allah and Uhud, but the Qur’an is not only a book of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, because there are about three pages of Surah Muhammad.dr mehrdad iran thank you

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