CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Pan Alone

Pan Alone
PIA 18281

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  Saturn's innermost moon Pan, orbits the giant planet, seemingly alone in a ring gap its own gravity creates.

Pan (17 miles, or 28 kilometers across) maintains the Encke Gap in Saturn's A ring by gravitationally nudging the ring particles back into the rings when they stray in the gap. Scientists think similar processes might be in action during the formation of some planets.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 38 above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 3, 2014.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) from Pan and at a Sun-Pan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 56 degrees. Image scale is 12 miles (19 kilometers) per pixel.

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, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: September 8, 2014 (PIA 18281)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Sep 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM):
is Pan's orbit resonant with other objects in the Saturn system?
like the image!