This is one of Cassini's closest views to date of the F ring shepherd moon Pandora (81 kilometers, 50 miles across). At least one crater is visible on the surface of this moon, which is thought to be an icy rubble pile, loosely bound together by gravity.
Several of Saturn's ring moons, including Pandora, show elongated, oval-like shapes (see PIA07523) with their long axes oriented along the moon-Saturn line. In this view, Cassini is looking at Pandora's anti-Saturn side, and toward the leading hemisphere (although, as mentioned, Pandora is not actually round). To the right, much of the moon's surface is in shadow.
The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on May 20, 2005 from a distance of approximately 346,000 kilometers (215,000 miles) from Pandora and at a Sun-Pandora-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 21 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 2 kilometers (1 mile) per pixel. The view was magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility of the moon's surface.
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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.