The moons of Saturn provide many inspiring destinations for future explorers. Each has its own set of challenges for landing and traveling on the surface, and each affords a unique view of nearby Saturn, its spectacular butterscotch clouds, glowing aurorae and vast rings.
- Kuiper Belt
- Galilean Satellite
- Cassini Spacecraft
- Saturnian System
- Saturnian Satellite
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As of this writing, the Cassini mission continues to discover moons on a fairly regular basis, most of which are tiny (less than 500 m/0.3 miles in diameter). In the dense B-ring alone, 150 have been charted. These moons are small enough that they cannot clear a consistent gap, like the Keeler gap or the Cassini division. Rather, they clear small, propeller-shaped areas in front of and behind themselves.
British scientist Sir John Herschel suggested the naming convention. He was the son of William Herschel, who discovered the planet Uranus. The elder Herschel also discovered two moons of Saturn, Mimas and Enceladus. In keeping with the family tradition of cosmic discoveries, William’s sister Caroline not only served as his assistant but discovered several comets and nebulae in her own right.
By this time Titan was already known, having been discovered by Christian Huygens in 1655.
Icarus, March 2014.
Hyperion is in a 3:4 resonance with Titan, which may also contribute to its wild dance around Saturn.
Dombard et al., Abstract P31D-01 presented at 2010 Fall Mtg., AGU.
For a good summary, see “Icy rings found around tiny space rock,” Science News, May 3, 2014, p. 10.
That is, all craters up to 200 million years ago have been obliterated by geological forces.
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Carroll, M. (2015). Saturn’s Ice Moons: Dione, Tethys, Rhea, Hyperion, Iapetus, Phoebe and Enceladus. In: Living Among Giants. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10674-8_6
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-10673-1
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-10674-8