Cassini spectra and photometry 0.25-5.1 μm of the small inner satellites of Saturn

B. J. Buratti, J. M. Bauer, M. D. Hicks, J. A. Mosher, G. Filacchione, T. Momary, K. H. Baines, R. H. Brown, R. N. Clark, P. D. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The nominal tour of the Cassini mission enabled the first spectra and solar phase curves of the small inner satellites of Saturn. We present spectra from the Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) and the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) that span the 0.25-5.1 μm spectral range. The composition of Atlas, Pandora, Janus, Epimetheus, Calypso, and Telesto is primarily water ice, with a small amount (∼5%) of contaminant, which most likely consists of hydrocarbons. The optical properties of the "shepherd" satellites and the coorbitals are tied to the A-ring, while those of the Tethys Lagrangians are tied to the E-ring of Saturn. The color of the satellites becomes progressively bluer with distance from Saturn, presumably from the increased influence of the E-ring; Telesto is as blue as Enceladus. Janus and Epimetheus have very similar spectra, although the latter appears to have a thicker coating of ring material. For at least four of the satellites, we find evidence for the spectral line at 0.68 μm that Vilas et al. [Vilas, F., Larsen, S.M., Stockstill, K.R., Gaffley, M.J., 1996. Icarus 124, 262-267] attributed to hydrated iron minerals on Iapetus and Hyperion. However, it is difficult to produce a spectral mixing model that includes this component. We find no evidence for CO2 on any of the small satellites. There was a sufficient excursion in solar phase angle to create solar phase curves for Janus and Telesto. They bear a close similarity to the solar phase curves of the medium-sized inner icy satellites. Preliminary spectral modeling suggests that the contaminant on these bodies is not the same as the exogenously placed low-albedo material on Iapetus, but is rather a native material. The lack of CO2 on the small inner satellites also suggests that their low-albedo material is distinct from that on Iapetus, Phoebe, and Hyperion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-536
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Satellites, Composition
  • Saturn, Satellites
  • Spectrophotometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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