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Fri, Mar-10-2017 04:55:32

The 'flying saucer' moon of Saturn


Internet users have also likened it to ravioli, and even a walnut The raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's tiny moon, Pan, were taken on March 7, 2017, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.  The flyby had a close-approach distance of 24,572 kilometers (15,268 miles). These images are the closest images ever taken of Pan and will help to characterize its shape and geology, NASA said. Pan, the innermost of Saturn's known moons, has a mean radius of 8.8 miles (14.1 km) and orbits 83,000 miles (134,000 km) away from Saturn, within the Encke Gap of Saturn's A-ring.  Like Saturn's moon Atlas, it has a prominent equatorial ridge that gives it a distinctive flying saucer shape. As it orbits Saturn every 13.8 hours, it acts as a shepherd moon and is responsible for keeping the Encke Gap open.  The gap is a 200 mile (325 km) opening in Saturn's A ring. Pan creates stripes, called 'wakes,' in the ring material on either side of it.  Since ring particles closer to Saturn than Pan move faster in their orbits, these particles pass the moon and receive a gravitational 'kick' from Pan as they do.