Flying Pan

The shepherd moon Pan casts its shadow

Making a complete orbit in just under 14 hours, the 17-mile-wide shepherd moon Pan cruises around Saturn within the Encke gap in the A ring. In the image above, taken by Cassini on January 8, we can see Pan casting a sliver of a shadow onto the outer edge of the gap as it causes faint trailing disturbances behind it along the gap’s inner edge.

Pan shares the 202-mile-wide Encke gap with several thin ringlets too. Its passing seems to have riled up one of the ringlets here, causing it to pick up extra-bright highlighting from the sun.

This image was taken with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera from a position below the ringplane. Some stars are also visible, outside as well as through the rings. Saturn’s own huge shadow darkens the top portion of the image.

Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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