The high resolution images provided by the Cassini spacecraft have uncovered a surprising shape for two small Saturn satellites located inside the rings of the giant planet. An international team, leaded by Sébastien Charnoz and André Brahic from the Service d'Astrophysique (SAp) of CEA/DSM/DAPNIA and laboratoire AIM (CNRS, Université Paris Diderot), have just shown that the Pan and Atlas satellites, two small moons with only a 30 km radius, are circled at their equator by an important padding making them looking like "flying saucers". Thanks to numerical simulations able to reproduce the collisions among particles taking place inside the Saturn rings, the astronomers have now gain new indications that the small bodies have indeed "grown" inside the rings. They constitute a new evidence that the Saturn rings originate from the cataclysmic desintegration of a bigger satellite or comet.
These results are published in Science of 7 décembre 2007.
For details and more information in French : click HERE
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| S. Charnoz interview (in french)
Ciel & Espace Radio
" The equatorial ridges of Pan & Atlas : terminal accretionary ornaments "
S. Charnoz, A. Brahic, P. Thomas, C. Porcot, published in Science magazine (7 Decembre 2007)
for an electronic version ( file PDF- 232 Ko)
|-the CEA press release (7 Decembre 2007, in French)|
|-the CNRS press release (7 Decembre 2007, in French)
|- "Spirale dans les anneaux de Saturne" (24 novembre 2005, in French)|
|- "Cassini rencontre les anneaux" (25 février 2005, in French)|
|- Personnelle page S. Charnoz (Univ. Paris-7, in French)|
Rédaction: S. Charnoz, J.M. Bonnet-Bidaud