NASA publishes never-before-seen photos of ‘ravioli’ moon orbiting Saturn

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) dropped never-before-seen photos of one of Saturn’s moons while comparing them to well-known food dishes.

“Ravioli, pierogi, empanada… What do you see? No wrong answers,” NASA posted on its Instagram account Monday, accompanied by pictures of Pan, the innermost of Saturn’s moons.

The photos, which were taken from the Cassini spacecraft, show the unique moon in a new level of detail.

According to the space agency, the ridge around the equator of Pan has similar characteristics to Atlas, another moon that orbits Saturn. That ridge gives Pan its unique “dumpling” shape, according to NASA.

Pan orbits Saturn from inside a gap in one of the planet’s rings, the post explained, making an orbit around the planet every 13.8 hours at an altitude of 83,000 miles.

The two images show how the Cassini spacecraft’s perspective of Pan changed as it passed within 15,300 miles of the moon, the craft’s closest ever encounter with Pan.


Pan orbits Saturn from inside a gap in one of the planet's rings, the post explained, making an orbit around the planet every 13.8 hours at an altitude of 83,000 miles.
Pan orbits Saturn from inside a gap in one of the planet’s rings, the post explained, making an orbit around the planet every 13.8 hours at an altitude of 83,000 miles.
HUM Images/Universal Images Grou

Pan was originally discovered by M.R. Showalter “using images taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft nine years earlier,” according to a page about the moon on NASA’s website.

According to Space.com, Saturn has 145 moons that are currently recognized by the International Astronomical Union.

That number rose significantly in May this year as 62 new moons were discovered by a team of scientists led by Edward Ashton.


Saturn and its moons Dione (front), Tethys and Mimas (right), Enceladus and Rhea (left), and Titan (distant top), as depicted by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, November 1980.
Saturn and its moons Dione (front), Tethys and Mimas (right), Enceladus and Rhea (left), and Titan (distant top), as depicted by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, November 1980.
Getty Images

While most of Saturn’s moons were originally named for Greco-Roman Titans, the discovery of many new moons forced scientists to start using names from other mythologies such as Gallic, Inuit and Norse stories, according to NASA.

“Pan, a satyr (a creature resembling a man with the hind legs and hooves of a goat), is a Greek god of nature and the forest,” NASA explains on its website.

source: nypost.com