Space Science Reviews

, Volume 137, Issue 1, pp 435-453

The Charging of Planetary Rings

  • A. L. GrapsAffiliated withSouthwest Research InstitutePlanetary Science Institute Email author 
  • , G. H. JonesAffiliated withMullard Space Science Laboratory, Centre for Planetary Sciences, University of College London
  • , A. JuhászAffiliated withKFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • , M. HorányiAffiliated withLaboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
  • , O. HavnesAffiliated withDept. of Physics, University of Tromsø

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This chapter will review what is known about the charging of planetary rings, in particular the sum of the individual currents from the time-varying charge dQ/dt, of the planetary ring particle. For the smallest ring particles, in addition to checking the plasma conditions for the charging currents, one must consider if collective effects in the ring environment are relevant. Two planetary ring environments that have held a strong interest for ring scientists in the last two decades are Saturn’s spokes in the B Ring and the environment of Saturn’s E ring. Two sections of this chapter will describe these planetary ring charging environments in detail. Finally, we describe two charging effects that demonstrate areas of future studies while providing fresh examples of the intriguing effects from planetary ring charging processes.


Charged dust Plasma Photoelectron emission Secondary electron emission Saturn’s rings Jupiter’s rings Saturn’s E ring Saturn’s spokes Dusty plasma Dust-in-plasma Mach cones Electrostatic braking