Earlier today, the Twitter account of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, shared an old photo of one of Saturn’s moon, Tethys.
The image, a composite of several snapshots captured by the Cassini spacecraft on August 17, 2015, reveals the moon’s most iconic feature — a large impact crater dubbed Odysseus.
According to NASA, this massive crater is roughly 280 miles (450 kilometers) wide and makes for an impressive sight. Referring to it as the “mighty Odysseus,” the space agency notes that the enormous crater on Tethys has “epic proportions” — enough of a reason to call for this Tethys throwback.
But the NASA JPL Twitter followers are not convinced that the Cassini photo really shows what it says it shows. Soon after the image was tweeted, humorous comments started pouring in, saying that the snapshot actually depicts the famous Death Star from the Star Wars franchise.
“That’s no moon,” note several of these comments.
“So that’s where they are hiding the Death Star,” Lovethatscience wrote on Twitter about half an hour after the image was posted.
NASA’s Twitter followers are adamant that Saturn’s icy moon Tethys is actually the Death Star in disguise, hidden under a layer of ice.
“Is it the Death Star with a layer of ice on it? COULD BE!!!! That’s no moon!” Typical Dad commented on Twitter.
But the Tethys vs Death Star hilarious dispute had members on both sides of the argument.
Someone made the case for Tethys by jokingly adding that the Star Wars Twitter account “confirmed that they contacted Obi Wan Kanobi just to be sure…. it’s a moon.”
Named after the titan Tethys of Greek mythology, this is one of Saturn’s larger moons and has a diameter of about 665 miles (or 1,071 kilometers).
Last year, NASA argued that Tethys and its massive crater Odysseus resemble “an eyeball staring off into space.” At the time, the space agency had released a more recent Cassini photo of Saturn’s moon, taken by the spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera on November 10, 2016.
The image shared today was captured by the same camera from a distance of about 28,000 miles (44,500 kilometers) from Saturn’s icy moon.
The photo unveils the Scheria Montes mountainous peaks rising from the Odysseus crater, which one Twitter follower has described as “an awesome scar.”
Tethys is just one of the many moons of Saturn. The gas giant has more than 60 moons, notes the European Space Agency (ESA), which credits the Cassini mission with the discovery of some of these moons.
Conducted by NASA in collaboration with ESA and the Italian Space Agency, the historic Cassini mission launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in 2004. After 13 years of studying the gas giant’s system, the Cassini probe eventually ran out of fuel and crashed into Saturn on September 15, 2017, the Inquisitr reported at the time.
“Cassini may be gone, but its scientific bounty will keep us occupied for many years,” Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL, said in a NASA 2017 news release announcing the end of the spacecraft’s mission.
“We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can learn from the mountain of data it has sent back over its lifetime,” Spilker pointed out.