May 28, 2009
Although Saturn's moon Pan is absent from this image of the A ring's Encke Gap, the moon's handiwork is still displayed.
The two ringlets seen in the gap are maintained by the gravitational action of Pan (28 kilometers, or 17 miles across). To learn more about this process, see Revealing Pan's Influence.
The point of light near the bottom of the image is a star.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 41 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 17, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (808,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 115 degrees. Image scale is 8 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