PASADENA, Calif. – Recent findings from NASA's Cassini mission reveal that Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus provides a special laboratory for watching unusual behavior of plasma, or hot ionized gas. In these recent findings, some Cassini scientists think they have observed "dusty plasma," a condition theorized but not previously observed on site, near Enceladus.
Data from Cassini's fields and particles instruments also show that the usual "heavy" and "light" species of charged particles in normal plasma are actually reversed near the plume spraying from the moon's south polar region. The findings are discussed in two recent papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
"These are truly exciting discoveries for plasma science," said Tamas Gombosi, Cassini fields and particles interdisciplinary scientist based at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "Cassini is providing us with a new plasma physics laboratory."
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