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Saturn’s rings cut across their own shadows on the planet and hide a tiny secret.
Barely visible in the Encke Gap is the embedded moon Pan (26 kilometers, or 16 miles across). The Encke Gap is the thin, dark line near the rings’ outer edge; Pan is a faint speck halfway between center and right.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 5 degrees below the ringplane.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 18, 2007, using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 750 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 3.4 million kilometers (2.1 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 20 kilometers (13 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 mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute