Waking the A Ring
April 18, 2008
Curving wakes perturb the edges of the Encke Gap in Saturn's A ring. The culprit in their creation is the flying saucer-shaped moon Pan, shining brightly within the gap.
Ahead of Pan (26 kilometers, or 16 miles across at its widest point) are two narrow ringlets sharing the Encke Gap.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 9 degrees above the ringplane. Saturn's F ring cuts across the lower right corner of the scene.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 5, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (889,000 miles) from Pan and at a Sun-Pan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 21 degrees. Image scale is 9 kilometers (5 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