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Because Pan orbits inside the rings, it can gravitationally attract the tiny ice particles that make up the rings, and pull them onto its surface. Now, despite being hundreds of thousands of kilometers wide, the rings of Saturn are incredibly thin, in places only just 10 meters thick! That’s the height of a two-story house*, for some perspective.
Because Pan orbits exactly in the plane of the rings, when it pulls in the ice the particles land on its equator, all around the moon. This stuff piles up. On Earth, this would make on low, long ridge, because Earth’s gravity is strong, and the particles would slump if they piled up past a certain height.
But Pan’s gravity is very weak, just one-ten thousandth as strong as Earth’s. You could easily throw a baseball off the surface and have it leave the moon forever. Because of that teeny force, the ring particles can pile up to tremendous height without slumping. The result is a slightly triangular wall that reaches more than seven kilometers off the surface in some places!
originally posted by: EchoesInTime
originally posted by: SeaWorthy
Image of the Day: Saturn's Weird Moon, Pan (cool picture)
Great photo of Pan in 2010.