Meet the real Pandora

Close-up view of the moon Pandora

The Cassini spacecraft's best close-up view of Saturn's F ring shepherd moon, Pandora, shows that it is coated in fine dust-sized icy material. Cassini took this image from a distance of 52,000 kilometres.

Pandora is one of over 60 moons that orbit Saturn. Discovered in 1980 in images taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, the tiny potato-shaped world is just 110 x 88 x 62 kilometres.

Circling the ringed planet at a distance of just under 142,000 kilometres, it takes only 15.1 hours to complete one orbit.

Pandora, along with its sibling Prometheus, is a shepherd moon, orbiting just outside Saturn’s thin F ring. The gravitational influence of the two moons helps keep the material in the F ring in check.

The small moon’s surface appears to be covered in a layer of dust-sized particles of ice. There also are a number of craters, a couple of them being around 30 kilometres wide.

Two of Saturn's moons and the F ring

Two of Saturn's small moons orbiting beyond the planet's thin F ring—Pandora on the left and Epimetheus on the right.

Pandora and Saturn's rings

An almost edge-on view of Saturn's rings, also showing Pandora and the giant ringed planet in the background.

Pandora casts its shadow upon the F ring.

Pandora casts its shadow upon the F ring.

Images courtesy NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute.

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