Cassini mage: Where the small moon rules

September 20, 2016, NASA
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Pan may be small as satellites go, but like many of Saturn's ring moons, it has a has a very visible effect on the rings.

Pan (17 miles or 28 kilometers across, left of center) holds open the Encke gap and shapes the ever-changing ringlets within the gap (some of which can be seen here). In addition to raising waves in the A and B rings, other moons help shape the F ring, the outer edge of the A ring and open the Keeler gap.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 8 degrees above the . The image was taken in with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 2, 2016.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 840,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 128 degrees. Image scale is 5 miles (8 kilometers) per pixel. Pan has been brightened by a factor of two to enhance its visibility.

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