Pan is the innermost of the moons of Saturn. It was discovered on July 16, 1990 by Mark Showalter from old Voyager 2 data and is also known as Saturn XVIII. Walnut-shaped Pan lies within the Encke division (325 kilometers, or 200 miles wide) of Saturn's A-ring and is a shepherd moon responsible for keeping the Encke division open.
The movie clip shown here was made from 40 images taken by the Cassini spacecraft on April 29, 2006, at a distance of approximately 209,000 kilometers (130,000 miles) from Pan. The image scale is approximately 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) per pixel. The movie begins with Pan and the rings against the night side of Saturn. Cassini stays fixed on Pan as the moon heads toward the outside edge of the Encke division. Saturn's dark shadow is seen stretching across the middle of the ring plane. Midway through the sequence, the far side of the rings emerges from behind the planet, but eventually is completely darkened by Saturn's shadow. (The small, bright moving object that appears from the lower left, near the end of the sequence, is a bright background star.)
|discovery||1990, M. R. Showalter from Voyager 2 images|
|semimajor axis||133,584 km (82,956 miles)|
|diameter||35 × 35 × 23 km (22 × 22 × 14 miles)|
|orbital period||0.575 days (13 hr 48 min)|