Petite Moon
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Petite Moon

May 29, 2009

A bright arc within Saturn's faint G ring holds a tiny gift.

A small moonlet is just visible as a short streak near the ansa of the G ring arc in the top of two versions of the same image. The second (bottom) version of the image has been brightened to enhance the visibility of the G ring. The other streaks in this version of the image are stars smeared by the camera's long exposure time of 26 seconds. This version of the image shows a gap in the G ring which was faintly visible in an earlier Cassini movie (see Rounding the Corner).

The moonlet, dubbed S/2008 S 1 (and recently named Aegaeon), is likely a major source of the material of the G ring (see Tiny Moonlet Within G Ring Arc).

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 1 degrees below the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 28, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 27 degrees. Image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

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