CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
String of Moons?

Three of Saturn's moons appear almost like a string of pearls in this Cassini image, but looks are deceiving.

Moons visible in this image: Mimas (396 kilometers, 246 miles across) at right, Pandora (81 kilometers, 50 miles across) near center and Janus (179 kilometers, 111 miles across) in the lower left corner. Mimas' orbit inclination of 1.6 degrees relative to Saturn's equator is enough to make it appear as if it orbits just beyond the F ring when viewed from this vantage point of 5 degrees below the rings. In fact, it is 34,000 km (21,000 miles) more distant than Janus.

Contrast in the image was enhanced to make visible the faces of moons lit by reflected light from Saturn (their left sides). Notable here is the irregular shape of Janus, compared with larger, spherical Mimas. The bright B ring (at upper left) appears overexposed due to the extreme contrast enhancement.

The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on January 22, 2005, from a distance of approximately 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 16 kilometers (10 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 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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: February 18, 2005 (PIA 06588)
Image/Caption Information
  String of Moons?
PIA 06588

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