Did Saturn lay an egg?

Image of Saturn’s tiny egg-shaped moon Methone taken by the Cassini spacecraft.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Institute

It might seem that way in this new photo released on November 5, 2012, taken by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft, but this is actually the tiny moon Methone. The oblong shape and smooth surface make Methone look more like a huge egg than a moon.

Methone is only about 3 kilometres (2 miles) across; because it is so small, it lacks enough gravity to form a nice spherical shape like larger moons or planets. The resolution in this image, taken from about 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) away, is approximately 27 metres (88 feet) per pixel.

While the surface colour is basically grey, interesting variations can be seen in the image and there appears to be a distinct lack of craters as well.

Methone is named after one of the Alkyonides, the seven beautiful daughters of the Giant Alkyoneus in Greek mythology.

The Saturn system is like a miniature solar system itself, with an amazing variety of bizarre moons orbiting the ringed gas giant – moons with water geysers, methane lakes and equatorial ridge-like mountains, and now one that looks like a giant egg…

Larger versions of the image are here.

This article was first published on Examiner.com.