CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Where the Small Moon Rules
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Pan may be small as satellites go, but like many of Saturn's ring moons, it has a very visible effect on the rings.

Pan (17 miles or 28 kilometers across, left of center) holds open the Encke gap and shapes the ever-changing ringlets within the gap (some of which can be seen here). In addition to raising waves in the A and B rings, other moons help shape the F ring, the outer edge of the A ring and open the Keeler gap.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 8 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 2, 2016.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 840,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 128 degrees. Image scale is 5 miles (8 kilometers) per pixel. Pan has been brightened by a factor of two to enhance its visibility.


The Cassini Solstice 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.

For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission visit http://ciclops.org, http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: September 19, 2016 (PIA 20499)
Image/Caption Information
  Where the Small Moon Rules
PIA 20499

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