Enceladus, Pandora, and Rings (Oh, My!)

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is backlit by the Sun in this Cassini spacecraft image from 2009. The dramatic lighting shows of the plumes that continuously spew into space from the south pole of 500 km diameter moon. The icy plumes are likely fed by an ocean beneath the ice shell of Enceladus. They supply material directly to Saturn’s outer, tenuous E ring and make the surface of Enceladus as reflective as snow. Behind Enceladus, Saturn’s rings scatter sunlight toward Cassini. Beyond the rings, the night side of the 80 km diameter moon Pandora is faintly lit by light reflecting off of Saturn.

Image Credit: NASA


A quintet of Saturn’s moons appear in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across) is on the far left. Pandora (81 kilometers, or 50 miles across) orbits between the A ring and the thin F ring near the middle of the image. Brightly reflective Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across) appears above the center of the image. Part of Saturn’s second largest moon Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is visible at the right edge of the image. The smaller moon Mimas (396 kilometers, or 246 miles across) can be seen beyond Rhea also on the right side of the image.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Rhea is closest moon to Cassini here. The rings are beyond Rhea and Mimas. Enceladus is beyond the rings.

The image was taken by Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 29 July, 2011. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (684,000 miles) from Rhea and 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Enceladus.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL


NASA’s Cassini spacecraft obtained this unprocessed image on 12 December, 2011. The camera was pointing toward Saturn’s moon Dione from approximately 70,000 miles (113,000 kilometers) away. The smaller moons Epimetheus and Pandora are also visible along with Saturn’s rings.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Rings and Moons

Image Credit: NASA

The large moon in the background is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The moon in the foreground is Dione with some of its surface features visible. The small moon to the right of rings is Pandora. There’s a fourth moon in the picture. Look closely at the dark gap in the rings. The tiny speck is the moon Pan.