Saturn’s mini moons Pandora and Atlas dwarfed by rings

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Are the moons tiny or are the rings vast? Both, in a way! The moons visible in this Cassini probe image, Pandora and Atlas, are quite small by astronomical standards, but the rings are also enormous. From one side of the planet to the other, the A ring stretches over  270,000 km 170,000 miles, dwarfing these small moons of Saturn.

Pandora (81 km or 50 miles across) orbits in the vicinity of the F ring, along with neighboring Prometheus, which is not visible in this image. These moons interact frequently with the narrow F ring, producing channels and streamers and other interesting features. Atlas (30 km or 19 miles across) orbits between the A ring and F ring in the Roche division.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 34 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Februrary 17, 2014.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.8 million km (1.7 million miles) from Pandora and at a Sun-Pandora-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 110 degrees. Image scale is 17 km (11 miles) per pixel.