Daphnis (moon)

Daphnis (/ˈdæfnɪs/ DAF-nis; Greek: Δάφνις) is an inner satellite of Saturn. It is also known as Saturn XXXV; its provisional designation was S/2005 S 1.[3][4] Daphnis is about 8 kilometres in diameter, and orbits the planet in the Keeler Gap within the A ring.

Daphnis in cropped Cassini probe image (2017).
Discovered byCassini Imaging Science Team
Discovery dateMay 6, 2005
Orbital characteristics[1]
Mean orbit radius
136505.5±0.1 km
0.5940798 d (14.257915 h)
Satellite ofSaturn
Physical characteristics
Dimensions8.6×8.2×6.4 km[2]
Mean radius
3.8±0.8 km[2]
Mass(7.7±1.5)×1013 kg[2]
Mean density
0.34±0.26 g/cm³[2]
0.0001–0.0004 m/s2[2]
Temperature78 K


    The moon was named in 2006 after Daphnis, a shepherd, pipes player, and pastoral poet in Greek mythology;[5] he was descendant of the Titans, after whom the largest moons of Saturn are named. Both Daphnis and Pan, the only other known shepherd moon to orbit within Saturn's main rings, are named for mythological figures associated with shepherds.


    Before it was photographed, the existence of a moon in Daphnis's position had already been inferred from gravitational ripples observed on the outer edge of the Keeler gap.

    Daphnis was discovered by the Cassini Imaging Science Team on May 6, 2005.[3] The discovery images were taken by the Cassini probe over 16 min on May 1, 2005, from a time-lapse sequence of 0.180 second narrow-angle-camera exposures of the outer edge of the A ring. The moon was subsequently found in 32 low-phase images taken of the F ring on April 13, 2005 (spanning 18 min) and again in two high-resolution (3.54 km/pixel) low-phase images taken on May 2, 2005, when its 7 km disk was resolved.


    The inclination and eccentricity of Daphnis's orbit are very small, but distinguishable from zero. Both, particularly the inclination, are significantly greater than those of Pan (the larger moonlet which forms the Encke Gap). Daphnis's eccentricity causes its distance from Saturn to vary by ~9 km, and its inclination causes it to move up and down by ~17 km. The Keeler Gap, within which Daphnis orbits, is about 42 km wide.

    Effect on Saturn's rings

    Daphnis orbits within the Keeler gap in Saturn's rings. As it orbits, it creates gravitational ripples on the edges of the gap as ring particles are attracted toward the moon and then fall back down toward the ring. The waves made by the moon in the inner edge of the gap precede it in orbit, while those on the outer edge lag behind it, due to the differences in relative orbital speed. In a photograph taken on January 18, 2017, a tendril of ring particles can be seen to extend toward the moon; according to JPL, "this may have resulted from a moment when Daphnis drew a packet of material out of the ring, and now that packet is spreading itself out."[7]

    Physical characteristics

    On January 18, 2017, Daphnis was photographed from a sufficiently close distance to reveal its shape. The moon was discovered to be an irregularly-shaped object with a mostly smooth surface, a few craters, and an equatorial ridge.[7]


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