The Atmosphere around Saturn's Rings: A Study of the Probability of Collision between Ring Particles and Atmospheric Molecules.
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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An analytic model is developed to allow derivation of the probability that a molecule in the atmosphere of Saturns rings collides with at least one ring particle when traversing the ring plane. The resulting expression involves details of the molecules trajectory, including the velocity of the molecule relative to ring particles thus, the theory is compatible with recently developed ballistic-transport computer models used in the analysis of the rings. The collision theory is applied to the case of a low energy, isotropic molecular production process to make inferences on the spatial extent of the ring atmosphere associated with such a source. The high frequency of collisions expected for the atmosphere in the vicinity of the A and B rings suggests a toroidal atmosphere.