Pan is a moon of the planet Saturn and also happens to have an unusual job “Ring Shepherd”. These are moons which help maintain the many gaps we find within Saturn’s rings. Pan is shown above in it’s natural habitat within the Encke Division of Saturn’s rings. But take a look at what Pan looks like up-close (below).
We have seen this kind of phenomenon at Saturn before, but never quite this dramatic. A small standard potato shaped moon transformed by the accumulation of ring dust and particles into a ravioli shaped moon.
Worth noting that the color shown above is mostly true. The red channel is replaced by infrared and blue channel replaced by ultraviolet — both offer a view that comes close to what you would see with natural light (RGB).
All images were taken by Cassini in March 2017 and processed by Ian Regan.
Okay, so it is not totally real. An IR filter was added to the normal RGB files to exaggerate the clouds. Also made the rings appear red. But we couldn’t find a version of this image without the added filter. So — it is about 80% true color. Seen on The Planetary Society image library by Judy Schmidt.
For two days only, buy one of our limited edition Robotic Spacecraft Series Prints and get the full suite of vinyl stickers for free. This is a total savings of $24 and would serve as a great stocking stuffer to follow the presentation of the print.
Our new Kickstarter project proposes the creation of three screen-printed posters celebrating the most popular and notable interplanetary robotic space missions in history. Going into this, we knew that poster #1 had to go to the hugely popular Voyager missions (shown above). However, we need your help selecting the themes of posters #2 and #3. So head over to The Planetary Society now to vote on your three favorite missions, but do it by the 19th to have it count for the poster selection. If this goes better than expected we could even wind up designing a fourth or fifth.
Discover online has an article today about some of the best in amateur space imaging. Many of which have been featured here on Wanderingspace before like Gordan Ugarkovic, Emily Lakdawalla and Bjorn Jonsson to name a few. The last item from Bill Dunford of Riding With Robots is an image that he actually suggested NASA point their HiRise cameras at that location. He suspected they might find something interesting there and they did —flash water movement and evidence of avalanches.
Especially if you have kids with an appreciation for science. These guys regularly do great animations that explain complex science — appropriate for all ages. They also promise a series of cool videos about cool moons in our solar system. So far they have only covered our own, next up… Mars’ Deimos and Phobos.
Pretty cool detail caught by two imagers whose work I have been noticing more and more of late. That small blue dot is not Earth, but it is Uranus as it appears from Saturn orbit. Reminds me of this post of our own moon seen with other heavenly bodies within the same frame.
In the words of Gordan Ugarkovic, the unchallenged freelance imager of our time — “On October 10th, Cassini wide-angle camera captured a set of 12 RGB footprints covering Saturn and the rings. Here's an attempt at compositing that data into a mosaic. It's not geometrically accurate, but I tried coaxing the data into at least looking nice”.
The tiny but very active moon Enceladus is seen here lost within the E-Ring of Saturn. The moon, as many of us know, is quite active with cryo-volcanic geysers littered throughout the ridges of the “tiger stripes” found mostly in the moon’s southern hemisphere. Since most of the ejecta from Enceladus is jettisoned fast enough to escape the tiny moon’s gravity, most the material winds up orbiting Saturn itself and is therefore helping over a very long period of time to form Saturn’s E-Ring. This at least partly helps solve the question of where Saturn’s massive ring structure originates.
Image by Val Klavans.