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Scientists find new radiation belt around Saturn

The image captured by Cassini spacecraft shows the north pole of Dione and the fine fractures that cross its trailing hemisphere. Image Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (BNS): Scientists at NASA, using the Cassini spacecraft’s Magnetospheric Imaging instrument, have detected a new, temporary radiation belt at Saturn which is located around the orbit of its moon Dione at about 377,000 kilometers from the centre of the planet.

The new belt, named the “Dione belt,” has been observed for only a few weeks on three separate occasions in 2005, NASA said.

Dione is a small moon orbiting Saturn every 2.7 days at a distance of 377,400 kilometers which is roughly the same distance that the Moon orbits around the Earth.

Scientists believe that the newly formed charged particles in the Dione belt have been gradually absorbed by Dione itself and another nearby moon, Tethys, which lies slightly closer to Saturn at an orbit of 295,000 kilometers.

The scientists have presented their findings at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany.

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