Data from the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft indicate that Saturns majestic ring system has its own atmosphere - separate from that of the planet itself.
Spectrum from Cassini intruments indicating atmosphere over rings
During its close fly-bys of the ring system, instruments on Cassini have been able to determine that the environment around the rings is like an atmosphere, composed principally of molecular oxygen. This atmosphere is very similar to that of Jupiters moons Europa and Ganymede.
The finding was made by two instruments on Cassini, both of which have European involvement: the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) has co-investigators from USA and Germany, and the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) instrument has co-investigators from US, Finland, Hungary, France, Norway and UK.
ESA Media Relations Office | EurekAlert!
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