Zooming in on Saturn’s Magnificent Rings
18 September 2012

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

NASA recently published an interesting image (Fig. 1) of Saturn's rings, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. The image is a close-up, showing fine details of the rings and a tiny Saturnian moon, known as Pan, shining as a small speck of light in the middle of a gap in rings (near image center).

Pan (28 km across) is the innermost of Saturn’s numerous moons. It orbits Saturn every 13.8 hours, at an average distance of approximately 133,600 km. It is termed a shepherd moon, since its small gravitational pull influences the particles of the rings, and clears the gap it moves within.

The Cassini probe was below the plane of the rings, approximately 2 million km away from Pan. Fig. 1 was obtained in visual light, with the narrow-angle camera aboard Cassini, on 25 June 2012.


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Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist
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