CIRS Investigations of Planetary Rings

Grant #: NNX06AC85A
Senior Scientist: Mark Showalter

NASA’s Cassini orbiter arrived at Saturn in July, 2004 and is currently less than half way through its tour of the Saturn system. The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument is obtaining extensive data on the thermal infrared (wavelengths 7 µm to 1 mm) properties of the planet, satellites and rings. Dr. Mark Showalter has been working with the CIRS team since 2000 on all aspects of the ring science being obtained by the CIRS instrument. His major emphasis has been on the planning, execution and analysis of observations related to Saturn’s faintest rings. Because many of the dust particles in these rings are smaller than the CIRS wavelengths, the CIRS instrument has a unique capability to place new constraints on these rings’ particle sizes and properties.