Skip to comments.Cassini spacecraft spies new moon in Saturn's outer ring (~4 mile diameter)
Posted on 05/10/2005 7:09:27 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - The international Cassini spacecraft has spied a tiny new moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer ring, scientists reported Tuesday.
The moon was spotted earlier this month orbiting in the center of the Keeler gap, making waves in the gap edges as it circles. Tentatively called S/2005 S1, the moon measures four miles across and is about 85,000 miles from the center of Saturn.
More observations are needed to determine the shape of the moon's orbit, but preliminary findings show it is in the middle of the gap, said Joseph Spitale, a planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
S/2005 S1 is the second known moon to exist within Saturn's shimmering rings. The other is Pan, which orbits in the Encke gap. All of Saturn's other known moons are outside the main ring system.
The $3.3 billion Cassini mission, funded by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997 and took seven years to reach Saturn.
The Huygens probe aboard the spacecraft was released in December 2004 and plunged to the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, in January. Titan's atmosphere is similar to that of early Earth and scientists say studying it could provide clues to how life arose here.
Cassini Finds New Saturn Moon that Makes Waves - May. 10, 2005
In a spectacular kick-off to its first season of prime ring viewing, which began last month, the Cassini spacecraft has confirmed earlier suspicions of an unseen moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer A ring. A new image and movie show the new moon and the waves it raises in the surrounding ring material.
The view from the surface of that moon must be unbelievable.
I'll bet that if we were able to shove it out of orbit towards the sun, we'd eventually see it as a comet.
Probably is so tiny due to it's orbit within the Roche limit.
Are there any other moons in our solar system of comparable size to our own?
Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, and Io are larger than Luna (our moon). In fact, Ganymede and Titan are larger than the planet Mercury.
PS. Europa is just about the same size as our moon and Triton is a bit smaller.
Several. Callisto and Ganymede are bigger than Luna, and Europa, Io, and Triton are comparable to it. There are quite a few about half the size, but most are fairly small like this new one.
Have they got a picture of anyone mooning the Cassini from Saturn?
Very cool picture. Thanks.
But our moon is unique in being so large in comparison to the size of the "mother planet". I've seen it remarked that the earth and moon would be deemed a double planet if observed ( hypothetically ) from a distant solar system.
> But our moon is unique in being so large in comparison to the size of the "mother planet".
ERRRR. Charon and Pluto are far closer in size than Luna and Earth. They are also *both* tidally locked.
I call first dibs.
Comparing the Earth and Moon to Pluto and Charon highlights the Moon's uniqueness, qua moon.