Jan 15, 2019 | Updated: 01:26 PM EST

New Closest Photos of Saturn's Tiny Moon Looks Like A Dumpling

Mar 13, 2017 12:53 AM EDT


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA ) released raw, natural photos of Pan, one of Saturn's 62 moons. The nearest ever pictures of the small satellite were captured on March 7 by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during a nearby flyby at an exact distance of 24,572 kilometers (15,268 miles).

The exciting pictures were shared on the official Cassini mission Twitter account. NASA compared the moon to ravioli, a sort of dumpling made of two layers of thin pasta dough.

Interestingly, Carolyn Porco, Cassini's imaging boss, ringed in, tweeting this is not the first occasion Saturn's innermost moon has been compared to food.

Pan orbits Saturn at regular intervals, which is the reason it's considered as the planet's shepherd moon in charge for keeping the 325-kilometer (202-mile) Encke Gap of Saturn's A-ring open.

It is also known for its signature equatorial ridge, which gives it its flying saucer shape and which can also be viewed in Saturn's other moon, Atlas.

"The shape, as others have also said, is possibly due to the fact that it is continually sweeping up fine dust from the rings. The rings are thin compared with the size of Pan, so the dust collects or accumulates around its equator," Mark Showalter disclosed to National Geographic.

Showalter initially discovered Saturn's tiny satellite in 1990 through the pictures caught by the Voyager 2 spacecraft transmitted nine years before.

Launched in 1997, Cassini is a joint venture between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian space organization, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, with a total of 17 nations included.

Since its landing in Saturn back on July 1, 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has since transmitted probably the most amazing and most detailed photos ever taken of Saturn's icy rings, moons, and magnetosphere.

As indicated by JPL, the Cassini test has been enter in a few leap forward revelations, incorporating a worldwide sea with indications of aqueous movement inside the moon Enceladus, and fluid methane oceans on another moon, Titan.

Not long from now, Cassini will reach the last part of its central goal named the "Grand Finale." The spacecraft will jump over Saturn's rings to start its last series of its daring dives between the planet and the daring edge of the rings.

NASA will end the 13-year mission by sending Cassini to its death in the gas planet's atmosphere, where it will burn like a meteor. Along these lines, it won't collide with one of Saturn's possibly habitable moons.

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