Monday, September 05, 2005

Pandora Rev14 Non-Targeted Encounter

Today, Cassini will come within 52,000 km of the surface on one of Saturn's small, inner moons, Pandora. Pandora acts as one of the shephards of the thin F ring, orbit just outside of the ring. Pandora is a small, irregular, with a diameter of 114x82x62 km. Voyager views of Pandora's surface showed a ancient, heavily cratered world, but Cassini views, like the one above, suggest that, though heavily crater, small-scale topography may be subdued, perhaps due to F ring material mantling the surface.

This encounter with Pandora, while not a targeted flyby, will provide our best views of the satellite thus far and at 52,000 km, this will be the closest Cassini will come to this satellite. The best possible images from Cassini at closest approach would have a resolution of 300 m/pixel over the satellite's trailing hemisphere (assuming that it rotates synchronously which I believe it does).

Images and other data from this non-targeted encounter should be returned tonight or tomorrow.


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