Characterization of the dark material in the Saturn system

Grant #: NNX13AJ87A
Senior Scientist: Cristina Dalle Ore

The goal of our proposed research is to further investigate the nature and origin of the dark material(s) on the satellites of Saturn. We plan to achieve our goal by: a) identifying and distinguishing the signature of the dark material(s) by systematically studying their spectroscopic properties on the surface of satellites orbiting inward of Hyperion b) comparing the already studied materials on the surface of Iapetus, Phoebe and Hyperion with those on the surface of their neighboring satellites. This will trace the path of the dark material as it spirals towards Saturn and determine whether Titan blocks all contamination to the interior satellites; c) study the dark material that composes part of the rings of Saturn. Compare its aliphatic and aromatic signature to that of the satellites. We propose to use the information from a number of Cassini-VIMS (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, Miller et al. 1996, Brown et al. 2004) observations of the satellites and Saturn’s rings, making use of a cluster analysis approach to account for the information contained in this large body of data.