The Cassini-Huygens Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) is intended to provide direct observations of dust grains with masses between 10−19 and 10−9 kg in interplanetary space and in the jovian and saturnian systems, to investigate their physical, chemical and dynamical properties as functions of the distances to the Sun, to Jupiter and to Saturn and its satellites and rings, to study their interaction with the saturnian rings, satellites and magnetosphere. Chemical composition of interplanetary meteoroids will be compared with asteroidal and cometary dust, as well as with Saturn dust, ejecta from rings and satellites. Ring and satellites phenomena which might be effects of meteoroid impacts will be compared with the interplanetary dust environment. Electrical charges of particulate matter in the magnetosphere and its consequences will be studied, e.g. the effects of the ambient plasma and the magnetic field on the trajectories of dust particles as well as fragmentation of particles due to electrostatic disruption.The investigation will be performed with an instrument that measures the mass, composition, electric charge, speed, and flight direction of individual dust particles. It is a highly reliable and versatile instrument with a mass sensitivity 106 times higher than that of the Pioneer 10 and 11 dust detectors which measured dust in the saturnian system. The Cosmic Dust Analyzer has significant inheritance from former space instrumentation developed for the VEGA, Giotto, Galileo, and Ulysses missions. It will reliably measure impacts from as low as 1 impact per month up to 104 impacts per second. The instrument weighs 17 kg and consumes 12 W, the integrated time-of-flight mass spectrometer has a mass resolution of up to 50. The nominal data transmission rate is 524 bits/s and varies between 50 and 4192 bps.
Interstellar dust (ISD) is the condensed phase of the interstellar medium. In situ data from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer on board the Cassini spacecraft reveal that the Saturnian system is passed by ISD grains from our immediate interstellar neighborhood, the local interstellar cloud. We determine the mass distribution of 36 interstellar grains, their elemental composition, and a lower limit for the ISD flux at Saturn. Mass spectra and grain dynamics suggest the presence of magnesium-rich grains of silicate and oxide composition, partly with iron inclusions. Major rock-forming elements (magnesium, silicon, iron, and calcium) are present in cosmic abundances, with only small grain-to-grain variations, but sulfur and carbon are depleted. The ISD grains in the solar neighborhood appear to be homogenized, likely by repeated processing in the interstellar medium.
The cosmic dust analyzer (CDA) is designed to characterize the dust environment in interplanetary space, in the Jovian and in the Saturnian systems. The instrument consists of two major components, the dust analyzer (DA) and the high rate detector (HRD). The DA has a large aperture to provide a large cross section for detection in low flux environments. The DA has the capability of determining dust particle mass, velocity, flight direction, charge, and chemical composition. The chemical composition is determined by the chemical analyzer system based on a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The DA is capable of making full measurements up to one impact/second. The HRD contains two smaller PVDF detectors and electronics designed to characterize dust particle masses at impact rates up to 10 impacts/second. These high impact rates are expected during Saturn ring plane crossings.
We present the impact rates of dust particles recorded by the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) aboard the spacecraft. The “dust counters” evaluate the quality of an impact and give rise to the apparent density of dust particles in space. The raw data is pre-selected and refined to a new structure that serves to a better investigation of densities, flows, and properties of interplanetary dust grains. Our data is corrected for the dead time of the instrument and corresponds to an assumed Kepler orbit (pointing of the sensitive area). The processed data are published on the website for the Magnetosphere and Plasma Science (MAPSview), where it can be correlated with other instruments. A sample is presented for the Titan flyby on DOY 250/2006. We find that the dust density peaks at two times, at least, in a void region between Titan and Rhea. Such features may point to extended clouds of small particles drifting slowly in space. These density clouds seem to be stable for as long as several months or few years before dispersing.
The interplanetary space probe Cassini/Huygens reached Saturn in July 2004 after 7 years of cruise phase. The German cosmic dust analyser (CDA) was developed under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg under the support of the DLR e.V. This instrument measures the interplanetary, interstellar and planetary dust in our solar system since 1999 and provided unique discoveries. In 1999, CDA detected interstellar dust in the inner solar system followed by the detection of electrical charges of interplanetary dust grains during the cruise phase between Earth and Jupiter. The instrument determined the composition of interplanetary dust and the nanometre-sized dust streams originating from Jupiter’s moon Io. During the approach to Saturn in 2004, similar streams of submicron grains with speeds in the order of 100 km/s were detected from Saturn’s inner and outer ring system and are released to the interplanetary magnetic field. Since 2004 CDA measured more than one million dust impacts characterising the dust environment of Saturn. The instrument is one of the three experiments which discovered the active ice geysers located at the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus in 2005. Later, a detailed compositional analysis of the water ice grains in Saturn’s E ring system led to the discovery of large reservoirs of liquid water (oceans) below the icy crust of Enceladus. Finally, the determination of the dust-magnetosphere interaction and the discovery of the extended E ring (at least twice as large as predicted) allowed the definition of a dynamical dust model of Saturn’s E ring describing the observed properties. This paper summarizes the discoveries of a 10-year story of success based on reliable measurements with the most advanced dust detector flown in space until today. This paper focuses on cruise results and findings achieved at Saturn with a focus on flux and density measurements. CDA discoveries related to the detailed dust stream dynamics, E ring dynamics, its vertical profile and E ring compositional analysis are published elsewhere (see Hus et al. in AIP Conference Proccedings 1216:510–513, 2010; Hsu et al. in Icarus 206:653–661, 2010; Kempf et al. in Icarus 193:420, 2008; 206(2):446, 2010; Postberg et al. in Icarus 193(2):438, 2008; Nature 459:1098, 2009; Nature, 2011, doi: 10.1038/nature10175 ).
We revisit the evidence for a “dust cloud” observed by the spacecraft at Saturn in 2006. The data of four instruments are simultaneously compared to interpret the signatures of a coherent swarm of dust that would have remained near the equatorial plane for as long as six weeks. The conspicuous pattern, as seen in the dust counters of the Cosmic Dust Analyser (CDA), clearly repeats on three consecutive revolutions of the spacecraft. That particular cloud is estimated to about 1.36 Saturnian radii in size, and probably broadening. We also present a reconnection event from the magnetic field data (MAG) that leave behind several plasmoids like those reported from the Voyager flybys in the early 1980s. That magnetic bubbles happened at the dawn side of Saturn’s magnetosphere. At their nascency, the magnetic field showed a switchover of its alignment, disruption of flux tubes and a recovery on a time scale of about 30 days. However, we cannot rule out that different events might have taken place. Empirical evidence is shown at another occasion when a plasmoid was carrying a cloud of tiny dust particles such that a connection between plasmoids and coherent dust clouds is probable.
Saturn's moon Enceladus harbours a global water ocean(1), which lies under an ice crust and above a rocky core(2). Through warm cracks in the crust(3) a cryo-volcanic plume ejects ice grains and vapour into space(4-7) that contain materials originating from the ocean(8,9). Hydrothermal activity is suspected to occur deep inside the porous core(10-12), powered by tidal dissipation(13). So far, only simple organic compounds with molecular masses mostly below 50 atomic mass units have been observed in plume material(6,14,15). Here we report observations of emitted ice grains containing concentrated and complex macromolecular organic material with molecular masses above 200 atomic mass units. The data constrain the macromolecular structure of organics detected in the ice grains and suggest the presence of a thin organic-rich film on top of the oceanic water table, where organic nucleation cores generated by the bursting of bubbles allow the probing of Enceladus' organic inventory in enhanced concentrations.