Friday, March 08, 2013

Cassini Records Meteor Hits on Saturn's Rings

Cameras on the Cassini spacecraft recently recorded debris plumes caused by meteors impacting Saturn's rings.   Not a lot is known about the meteors other than speculation as to their size.  Estimates have suggested that they were far smaller, possibly as tiny as three feet across, than even those that crashed in rural Russia.  The damage however comes from the meteor's high velocity, somewhere in the order of ten miles a second.  

The first images were taken in '09 but were overlooked because of their minuscule size. If you look at the photos here,  you can see light colored streaks.  Even though they were tiny, the resulting dust plume,  at the brightest part is over 3000 miles long but only 125 miles wide, which made it difficult to detect at certain angles. 

You can read more of the article here on IO9

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