Image of Daphnis taken by Cassini.

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small moon obtained yet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Discovery

Daphnis was discovered by the Cassini mission team on 1 May 2005. Prior to its discovery, scientists posited the existence of a moon in Daphnis' position due to the ripples observed along the edge of the Keeler Gap.

Overview

Daphnis has a mean radius of 2.4 miles (3.8 km) and orbits 85,000 miles (136,500 km) from Saturn, completing one orbit in 14 hours.

The gravitational pull of tiny inner Saturnian moon Daphnis perturbs the orbits of particles of Saturn's A ring—and sculpting the edge of the Keeler Gap into waves. Material on the inner edge of the gap orbits faster than the moon, so the waves there lead the moon in its orbit. Material on the outer edge moves slower than the moon, so waves there trail the moon. The waves Daphnis causes cast shadows on Saturn during its equinox when the sun is in line with the plane of the rings.

How Daphnis Got its Name

Formerly known as S/2005 S1, Daphnis is named for a shepherd, and pipes player who is a pastoral poet in Greek mythology. Daphnis was the son of Hermes, the brother of Pan and a descendent of the Titans.​

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