Pan in the Fast Lane
Two of Saturn's ring moons are captured in this Cassini spacecraft view, along with the signature of another. This image was taken not long after Prometheus passed, leaving a trail of dark gores in the inner edge of the F ring.
Pan (26 kilometers, or 16 miles across) orbits Saturn about 4,090 kilometers (2,540 miles) closer than Atlas (32 kilometers, or 20 miles across), meaning that Pan orbits faster, always overtaking its slower moving sibling.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 25 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 23, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from both moons. Image scale is 11 kilometers (7 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