Pictured above are two of Saturn’s moons: Mimas and Pandora. The elongated Pandora is “small by moon standards”, measuring only 81 kilometres across, while the “medium-sized” Mimas measures 396 kilometres across.
NASA reports that much can be learned about the shapes of the moons could teach researchers much about their history. “For example, one explanation for Pandora’s elongated shape and low density is that it may have formed by gathering ring particles onto a dense core.”
The image was captured by the Cassini spacecraft in visible light with a narrow angle camera, while at a distance of approximately 781 000 kilometres.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project between NASA and the European and Italian Space Agencies.
Although Mimas and Pandora, shown here, both orbit Saturn, they are very different moons. Pandora, “small” by moon standards (50 miles or 81 kilometers across) is elongated and irregular in shape. Mimas (246 miles or 396 kilometers across), a “medium-sized” moon, formed into a sphere due to self-gravity imposed by its higher mass.