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For the first time, Cassini captures the shadow of Saturn's tiny moon Pandora sneaking onto the planet's main rings.
Only a portion of the shadow of Pandora (81 kilometers, 50 miles across) has crept onto the A ring here, but the shadow is long enough to stretch across the Keeler Gap. The moon is not shown. 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 PIA11651.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 48 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 9, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 912,000 kilometers (567,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 75 degrees. Image scale is 5 kilometers (3 miles) per pixel.
The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. 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 was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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.