NASA Photo Reveals Saturn's Moon Pandora Like Never Before

Saturn's moon Pandora
NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned an extremely high resolution image of Saturn's moon Pandora. The image was captured using Cassini's narrow-angle camera in green light on December 18, 2016. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn has captured the best photo yet of the planet's small, cratered moon Pandora.

Cassini took the new Pandora photo earlier this month from a distance of about about 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers), the spacecraft's closest-ever pass of the small moon.

"This image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft is one of the highest-resolution views ever taken of Saturn's moon Pandora," NASA officials wrote in an image description. "The spacecraft captured the image during its closest-ever flyby of Pandora on Dec. 18, 2016, during the third of its grazing passes by the outer edges of Saturn's main rings." [See the latest Saturn photos by Cassini]

Saturn's moon Pandora is small, just 52 miles (84 kilometers) across, and orbits the planet from just outside the planet's slender F ring. The scale of Cassini's new image is 787 feet (240 meters) per pixel, according to NASA.

The Cassini spacecraft launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004. The spacecraft is currently in the midst of its so-called Grand Finale tour of Saturn, a phase that will bring Cassini closer to the planet and its rings than ever before, allowing for amazing photography like the view of Pandora here. Cassini's mission will end with the probe's intentional crash into Saturn on Sept. 15, 2017. 

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.