Hamilton, D.P. and J.A. Burns 1993. OH in Saturn's rings. Nature 365, 498.

Sir - The recent discovery by Shemansky and Johnson of the hydroxyl radical (OH) in the vicinity of the inner satellites of Saturn is not surprising since the adjacent moons and rings are predominantly water ice. However, the amount of OH observed implies a production rate of the H2O parent molecule that is twenty times greater than theoretical calculations would suggest. Typical sources for circumplanetary H2O include collisions of interplanetary micrometeoroids into inner satellites and rings, and sputtering of these objects by ions and neutral particles. In order to account for their observations, Shemansky argues that the interplanetary micrometeoroid flux to the saturnian system might be twenty times greater than currently believed. However, such an increased flux would dramatically shorten lifetimes for the main saturnian rings to darken, for the rings to spread by angular momentum transfer, and for ring particles to erode which would make theories of the rings' primordial origin untenable. Instead we suggest that H20 is primarily produced by collisions of E~ring grains into the inner satellites of Saturn.
Return to Doug Hamilton's Publication List