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Saturn's Ripply F-Ring.


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Saturn's F-Ring with Pandora.
Saturn's F-Ring with Pandora, one of its shepherd moons. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this image of Saturn's F-ring, with one of its shepherd moons, Pandora also in view. Pandora is only 84 km (52 miles) across, but it clearly has a powerful effect on the ring, causing ripples, knots and twists in the ring from afar. You can see the entire shape of Pandora in this picture, because reflected light from Saturn illuminates the moon's dark side.

The shepherd moon, Pandora, is seen here alongside the narrow F ring that it helps maintain. Pandora is 84 kilometers (52 miles) across.

Cassini obtained this view from about four degrees above the ringplane. Captured here are several faint, dusty ringlets in the vicinity of the F ring core. The ringlets do not appear to be perturbed to the degree seen in the core.

The appearance of Pandora here is exciting, as the moon's complete shape can be seen, thanks to reflected light from Saturn, which illuminates Pandora's dark side. The hint of a crater is visible on the dark side of the moon.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 4, 2005, at a distance of approximately 967,000 kilometers (601,000 miles) from Pandora and at a Sun-Pandora-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 117 degrees. The image scale is 6 kilometers (4 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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. For additional images visit the Cassini imaging team homepage http://ciclops.org.




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