Pan Minds the Gap

The little moon Pan is minding the (Enke) gap. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The little moon Pan is minding the (Enke) gap. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

If you’ve ever wondered how the Enke gap in the rings of Saturn can be, it is thanks to the tiny moon Pan who minds the gap, keeping it nice and orderly using its gravity.  Pan is so small it barely shows up in the image above.

BTW: If you are out and about just after sunset and in the twilight AND have decent skies, look to the south, on your left or East about 15 degrees you will see the planet Mars, nice and red then on the right or West about 15 degrees you will see the bright blue star Sirius. I saw the two last evening and quite enjoyed it, the colors were really good against the twilight sky.

Here’s the Cassini caption from JPL:

Saturn’s moon Pan, named for the Greek god of shepherds, rules over quite a different domain: the Encke gap in Saturn’s rings.

Pan (17 miles, or 28 kilometers across) keeps the Encke gap open through its gravitational influence on the ring particles nearby.

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