09/03/2008 - How Many Moons Does Saturn Have?
Saturn has a total of 60 moons, many of which were only discovered in the last few years - 52 of them have received official names. Believe it or not, this isn't the most in the Solar System (Jupiter has 63). Most of Saturn's moons are quite tiny, just 2 to 3 km across, and would be considered merely comets if they weren't orbiting around Saturn. Saturn does have some larger moons, including the second largest moon in the Solar System: Titan. Saturn's innermost moon is Pan, circling the planet at only 134,000 km above Saturn's center. The largest inner moon is Mimas, at 397 km across, and orbiting about 185,000 km from the center of Saturn. Then Enceladus at 238,000 km, Tethys at 295,000 km, Dione at 377,000 km, Rhea at 527,000 km, Titan at 1.2 million km, and finally Iapetus at 3.56 million km. More than 35 of Saturn's 60 moons orbit at a distance of more than 10 million km from the center of the planet, and this makes is likely that further moons will be discovered at even more distant orbits. Smaller moons - moonlets really - have been uncovered at gaps inside Saturn's F-Ring, and it's unclear if they'll ever be recognized as moons. For some of the smallest moonlets, Cassini can't image them directly. Instead, the spacecraft was only able to find them because of the propeller ripples they leave as they churn up material in Saturn's rings. This article reports on the discovery of Saturn's 60th moon, and here's a photograph that contains three of Saturn's moons all in the same image. Here's a general article on Saturn's moons, and further information from the Cassini/Huygens mission. LINK: http://www.universetoday.com