It sure does look like a flying saucer zinging around Saturn

By Tom Yulsman | April 17, 2017 5:43 pm

But in reality, it is a flying saucer moon named Atlas

Source: NASA

Source: NASA

Who knew? I certainly didn’t… Saturn has a moon shaped eerily like a flying saucer.

Check it out in the image above, acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on April 12, 2017 during a flyby that came as close as 7,000 miles from the moon.

This is the closest image ever taken of the moon, named Atlas, according to NASA. The object is just 19 miles across; it orbits Saturn just outside the giant planet’s A ring — the outermost of Saturn’s main rings.

flying saucer

Cassini acquired this image of Atlas on Dec. 6, 2015. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

In the image above, taken by Cassini in 2015, you can see Atlas and Saturn’s A ring, which is at the bottom of the image.

Atlas was discovered in photographs taken by Voyager in 1980 as the spacecraft encountered Saturn.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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