'What do you see?': NASA's stunning photo of 'dumpling-shaped' object sparks creative interpretations
NASA shares a photograph of Saturn's moon Pan, shaped like a dumpling, sparking creative interpretations from netizens.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) frequently treats space enthusiasts to updates on the latest discoveries within our solar system, along with captivating images from its spacecraft. In a recent post, NASA shared a photograph of an intriguing "dumpling shape" object observed in outer space and engaged netizens in guessing what they saw in the image.
In the caption, NASA playfully wrote, "Ravioli, pierogi, empanada... What do you see? No wrong answers."
As it turns out, the object captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft is Saturn's innermost moon, known as Pan. NASA clarified that the two images were taken from different perspectives. The left image seems to be from above the moon, while the right one appears to be from below, revealing a moon with a flat ridge around its midpoint and surface lines that appear to be scraped across it.
Pan is Saturn's innermost known moon and orbits the planet from within a gap in one of Saturn's rings. NASA explained that it completes an orbit every 13.8 hours at an altitude of 83,000 miles (134,000 km). The distinctive dumpling shape of Pan is due to the ridge around its equator, which is similar to Saturn's moon Atlas.
Since NASA shared the post, it has garnered over 273,000 likes and numerous comments from intrigued viewers. Some playful commenters likened the object to various food items, such as a macaron, tortellini, or a pancake. Others took a more imaginative approach, suggesting it resembled a frying pan, a covert interstellar starship shaped like a walnut saucer, or the creation of evolved Squirlians from a parallel dimension.
NASA mentioned that Pan was initially discovered by MR Showalter in 1990, using images captured by the Voyager 2 spacecraft. The recent images of Pan were taken by the Cassini spacecraft during its closest encounter with the moon, passing within 24,600 km.