|Discovered by||Stewart A. Collins|
|Discovery date||October, 1980|
|Orbital characteristics |
|Epoch December 31, 2003 (JD 2453005.5)|
|Inclination||0.050°±0.004° to Saturn's equator|
|Group||Possible outer shepherd moon of the F Ring|
|Dimensions||104 × 81 × 64 km |
|40.7±1.5 km |
|Volume||≈ 280000 km3|
|0.0026–0.0060 m/s2 |
|≈ 0.019 km/s|
|Temperature||≈ 78 K|
Pandora is an inner satellite of Saturn. It was discovered in 1980 from photos taken by the Voyager 1 probe, and was provisionally designated S/1980 S 26. In late 1985 it was officially named after Pandora from Greek mythology. It is also designated Saturn XVII.
Pandora was thought to be an outer shepherd satellite of the F Ring. However, recent studies indicate that it does not play such a role, and that only Prometheus, the inner shepherd, contributes to the confinement of the narrow ring. It is more heavily cratered than nearby Prometheus, and has at least two large craters 30 kilometres (19 mi) in diameter. The majority of craters on Pandora are shallow as a result of being filled with debris. Ridges and grooves are also present on moon's surface.
The orbit of Pandora appears to be chaotic, as a consequence of a series of four 118:121 mean-motion resonances with Prometheus. The most appreciable changes in their orbits occur approximately every 6.2 years, when the periapsis of Pandora lines up with the apoapsis of Prometheus and the moons approach to within about 1,400 kilometres (870 mi). Pandora also has a 3:2 mean-motion resonance with Mimas.
From its very low density and relatively high albedo, it seems likely that Pandora is a very porous icy body. There is much uncertainty in these values, however, so this remains to be confirmed.
Cassini captured this close view of Saturn's moon Pandora during the spacecraft's flyby on June 3, 2010.
Voyager 2 image of Pandora (August 1981).
- This view was taken by Cassini, during the spacecraft's close flyby on December 18, 2016. The image was taken from a distance of 40,500 kilometres (25,200 miles); the closest approach by the spacecraft during its 14-year tenure in the Saturn system.
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