PIA11515: Diminutive Debut

 Diminutive Debut

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For the first time, the Cassini spacecraft 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, or 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-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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at ciclops.org.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Image Addition Date: 2009-06-16

Source: NASA’s Planetary Photojournal: Image No. PIA11515