Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Satellite or Moon

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1403-4

Definition

The term satellite refers to a natural object that orbits another (larger) body or to an artificial object placed into orbit by human action. Thus, planets that orbit a star may also be considered natural satellites. However, the basic definition of a natural satellite is a celestial body that orbits a planet or a small body and is classically also called a moon. The sizes of natural satellites in our Solar System range from 5,268 km for the Jovian moon Ganymede to objects of less than 1 km in diameter. Among the objects classified as natural satellites are 172 objects that orbit planets, 169 of which are in the outer Solar System. Eight satellites orbit dwarf planets. A significant number of satellites are known to orbit asteroids (186) and trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) (84).

See Also

Keywords

Human Action Bioorganic Chemistry Solar System System Formation Small Body 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DLRInstitut für PlanetenforschungBerlinGermany