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Beyond Earthly Skies

Pan and Daphnis

23 Oct 2013, 09:00 UTC
Pan and Daphnis
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Figure 1: An image of Saturn and its rings taken by the Cassini spacecraft on 15 April 2008. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Figure 2: A mosaic of a portion of Saturn’s rings, showing the A Ring, and the positions of the Encke Gap and Keeler Gap. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.Pan and Daphnis are two inner moons of Saturn that orbit within gaps in Saturn’s A Ring. Pan orbits within the 325 km wide Encke Gap and Daphnis orbits within the 42 km wide Keeler Gap. Pan is a small walnut-shaped moon measuring 34.4 by 31.4 by 20.8 km in size. Daphnis is smaller than Pan and it measures 8.6 by 8.2 by 6.4 km in size. Pan was discovered in 1990 from images taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and Daphnis was discovered in 2005 from images taken by the Cassini spacecraft.Pan’s walnut-shape is due to the presence of an equatorial ridge that was formed when the moon swept up ring material from the Encke Gap. Daphnis probably has an equatorial ridge as well. Pan takes 13.8 hours to circle Saturn while Daphnis takes 14.3 hours. The orbits of both moons have slight inclinations which cause then to move above ...

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