Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lost Among Rings

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pan is nearly lost within Saturn's rings in this view that captures a small section of the rings from just above the ringplane.

Pan (28 kilometers, 17 miles across) appears a small bright dot on the far side of the rings near the middle top of the image. Pan orbits in the Encke Gap of the A ring. See PIA11625 to see Pan casting a shadow on the ring around the time of Saturn's August 2009 equinox.

A bright spoke also can be seen on the far right of the image. To learn about spokes, see PIA11144 and PIA08288.

This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 7, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Pan and at a Sun-Pan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 98 degrees. Image scale is 13 kilometers (8 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini Equinox Mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini


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