The Walnut-Shaped Moons of Saturn

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Three moons of Saturn collected in one image: Atlas, Pan, Daphnis. These moons have large equatorial bulges.
Atlas, Daphnis, and Pan three of the walnut-shaped moons of Saturn (image credit: NASA/JPL).

The Cassini spacecraft has made some truly remarkable discoveries within the Saturnian system, where it has been orbiting for the last 13 years. One such discovery is of the walnut-shaped moons: Atlas, Daphnis, and Pan. These moons sport a prominent equatorial ridge pattern circumnavigating the moons (Saturn's moon Iapetus also as an equatorial feature, though not as prominent as these). The ridges are due to where the moons are located. They are all located in or very near to the ring system, and as a result, have 'swept up' material over the millions of years they've orbited Saturn, producing equatorial ridge patterns of various sizes.

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The Walnut-Shaped Moons of Saturn
NASA Earth Observatory
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.