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Applicant -- Ultraviolet characteristics of the Saturnian satellites, from Titan’s upper atmosphere to Mimas’ surface

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths can be used to probe the uppermost layers of airless planetary body’s surfaces, as well as the upper atmospheres of planets and Titan. From 2004 to 2017, the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) instrument onboard the Cassini spacecraft has been observing the wide variety of satellites orbiting around Saturn. Its EUV and FUV channels, spanning wavelengths from 56 to 190 nm, recorded thousands of spectra, providing us with a better understanding of the effect of the UV solar radiation and weathering processes in the Kronian system.

During this seminar, we will review how the Cassini-UVIS data can be used to investigate a wide range of physical properties, from photometry and composition to airglow processes, on a variety of satellites. We will retrieve the photometricproperties of the surface of Mimas, Tethys, Dione and Helene, analyzing the weathering processes affecting these airless surfaces. We will also examine the Titan airglow through the UVIS data, describing the interactions between Titan’s upper atmosphere, its ionosphere and the Saturn’s magnetosphere.

Through 13+ years of mission, the Cassini-UVIS instrument helped us build a clear UV picture of the Kronian system, unravelling part of the interaction processes between the satellites and their environment. At the end of the Cassini mission, we are leaving with many answers but also many more questions to be investigated by future explorations.

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