Taking the Plunge
April 17, 2007
Pan prepares to be engulfed by the darkness of Saturn's shadow, visible here as it stretches across the rings.
When the Cassini spacecraft took a follow-up image of this same location about 50 seconds later, Pan (26 kilometers, or 16 miles across) had vanished into darkness.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 44 degrees above the ringplane.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 14, 2007 at a distance of approximately 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Pan. Image scale is 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. 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 and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute