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Target 1: Pan

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Target 1: Pan

Tina Sung

Cassini Operations Engineer

Computer simulation of target 1, Pan
Software used by the Cassini science planning team simulates the field of view the cameras on board the Cassini spacecraft can capture at a specific date and time. This is a computer-generated image of a portion of the rings where Pan should be as seen by the Cassini spacecraft's Narrow Angle Camera on Oct. 19, 2012.
+ Click on the image for a larger view

Hi! My name is Tina and I am a Mission Operations Engineer for Cassini.

My job is to make sure Cassini's programmed schedule and instruments are synchronized correctly so the spacecraft can communicate with scientists and engineers on the ground.

I think target number one, Pan, is the best target for this observation.

Pan is the innermost known moon of Saturn, and it has a bizarre shape, like a walnut.

Wouldn't this be an awesome picture for Cassini's camera to capture?

This small, intriguing moon orbits in the Encke Gap of Saturn's A ring. In fact, Pan acts as a "shepherd moon" and is responsible for keeping the Encke Gap open and free of ring particles!

Also, Pan creates stripes, or "wakes," in the ring material on either side of it. It's almost like Pan is trying to paint pictures on Saturn's rings! This is a pretty big task for a small moon to accomplish!

There are still many mysteries surrounding Pan. We'll need more observations to uncover them.

That's why I think target number one, Pan, is the most interesting target.

Good luck!