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No. 24: Nov-Dec 1982

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Mysterious "thing" in orbit around saturn

When the two Voyager spacecraft flew past Saturn, both detected strong bursts of radio emissions recurring every 10 hours, 10 minutes. New termed SEDs (Saturn Electrostatic Discharges), the period of these bursts would be matched by the period of an object rotating around Saturn at a distance of about 100,000 kilometers. Is there anything visible at this distance? Sure enough, Voyager optical instrumentation detected a thinning, possibly an actual gap, about 150 meters wide, in the B-ring at this radius. The big puzzle is why a thinness or gap is maintained over a long period of time and how it is associated with the SEDs.

(Evans, D.R., et al; "The Source of Saturn Electrostatic Discharges," Nature, 299:236, 1982.)

Comment. Could Saturn and its rings, which may be electrically charged, be some sort of electromagnetic machine, with arcing occurring at the gap?

Reference. SEDs are cataloged at ARF1 in our book: The Moon and the Planets. Ordering information here.

From Science Frontiers #24, NOV-DEC 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss