Pandora (păndôrˈə) [key], in astronomy, one of the named moons, or natural satellites, of Saturn. Also known as Saturn XVII (or S17), Pandora is an irregularly shaped (nonspherical) body measuring about 71 mi (114 km) by 52 mi (84 km) by 38 mi (62 km); it orbits Saturn at a mean distance of 88,050 mi (141,700 km) and has an orbital period of 0.6285 earth days. The rotational period is unknown but is assumed to be the same as the orbital period. It was discovered by a team led by S. Collins in 1980 from an examination of photographs taken by Voyager 1 during its flyby of Saturn. Pandora is more heavily cratered—with at least two of the craters being more than 18 mi (30 km) in diameter—than the nearby moon Prometheus but exhibits neither linear ridges nor valleys. Pandora is the outer shepherd satellite (a moon that limits the extent of a planetary ring through gravitational forces) of Saturn's F ring.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Astronomy: General