The Cassini mission will be coming to an end in September and the Cassini orbiter is making its final orbits around Saturn. The spacecraft still has plenty to offer in these final months as proven by the latest images released by NASA. The orbiter picked up some incredible images of one of Saturn’s innermost moons, Pan. The world was delighted to find a moon that looks as adorable as its name sounds.
— CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) March 9, 2017
The moon has a diameter of only about 35 km (less than 22 miles) and is shaped like a particularly stuffed ravioli. Others have compared the Saturnian satellite to a walnut, wonton, or empanada. It would seem that astronomers are a particularly hungry group.
Cassini has a history of taking interesting images of Saturn’s moons. Here’s a picture of Tethys, which bears a striking resemblance to a certain Alderaan ending planet destroyer, or Death Star, if you will.
And, speaking of Star Wars, this shot of the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus looks like the top of an unmasked Darth Vader head (a bit of a stretch, but true).
Blaze of Glory
When the Cassini mission meets its end as the orbiter hurtles toward the surface of the ringed planet, it will continue to collect useful data while it makes its return. We will soon be able to learn more about the strength of Saturn’s gravity while also taking more breathtaking photos of the planet’s rings.
NASA’s orbiter missions are continually creating a treasure trove of stunning images from the furthest reaches of space. These photos show the stunning scale of the universe and we’ve barely even breached our solar system. Other missions like the Voyagers and New Horizons are exploring the solar system and taking key measurements to help us understand what is happening on our final frontier.