Pan's Slender Shadow
June 10, 2009
Saturn's moon Pan casts a delicate shadow onto the planet's A ring.
Shown in the center of this image, Pan (28 kilometers, or 17 miles across) orbits within the Encke Gap of the A ring. Other bright specks in the image are background stars. As Saturn approaches its August 2009 equinox, the planet's moons cast shadows onto the rings. To learn more about this special time and to see a movie of a moon's shadow moving across the rings, see Moon Shadow in Motion.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 51 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 2, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from Pan and at a Sun-Pan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 108 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