Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 20:20 UTC
Dust particles act in an unusual way around Saturn. Instead of being attracted to the giant planet as might be expected, dust particles are ejected away from Saturn in streams that move at speeds of more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) per second.
Using data from Cassini, a team of scientists led by H.-W. (Sean) Hsu has now successfully modeled these dust streams. They found that the streams result from the effects of the solar wind and Saturn's magnetic field on tiny, electrically charged dust particles in Saturn's vicinity. Studying the dust stream phenomenon, at both Saturn and Jupiter, provides new information on the sources of the dust as well as interactions within the mix of electrons, ions, and neutrals in which the charged dust is immersed, called a dusty plasma.