Pan is seen in this color view as it sweeps through the Encke Gap with its attendant ringlets. As the lemon-shaped little moon orbits Saturn, it always keeps its long axis pointed along a line toward the planet. From this vantage point, the dark side of the moon is visible.
This view looks toward Pan (26 kilometers, or 16 miles across) within the Encke Gap (325 kilometers, or 200 miles wide), on the unlit side of the rings, and from an inclination of about 33 degrees above the ringplane.
Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 16, 2006 at a distance of approximately 779,000 kilometers (484,000 miles) from Pan and at a Sun-Pan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 83 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 http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute