Moons of Our Solar System

Moons of Our Solar System

ASTRO Dasar Pythagoras College Moons of Our Solar System This photo illustration shows selected moons of our solar system at their correct relative ...

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Moons of Our Solar System

This photo illustration shows selected moons of our solar system at their correct relative sizes to each other and to Earth.

Moons -- also called satellites -- come in many shapes, sizes and types. They are generally solid bodies, and few have atmospheres. Most of the planetary moons probably formed from the discs of gas and dust circulating around planets in the early solar system. Astronomers have found at least 146 moons orbiting planets in our solar system. Another 27 moons are awaiting official confirmation of their discovery. This number does not include the six moons of the dwarf planets, nor does this tally include the tiny satellites that orbit some asteroids and other celestial objects. Of the terrestrial (rocky) planets of the inner solar system, neither Mercury nor Venus have any moons at all, Earth has one and Mars has its two small moons. In the outer solar system, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune have numerous moons. As these planets grew in the early solar system, they were able to capture objects with their large gravitational fields. Earth's Moon probably formed when a large body about the size of Mars collided with Earth, ejecting a lot of material from our planet into orbit. Debris from the early Earth and the impacting body accumulated to form the Moon approximately 4.5 billion years ago (the age of the oldest collected lunar rocks). Twelve American astronauts landed on the Moon during NASA's Apollo program from 1969 to 1972, studying the Moon and bringing back rock samples. Usually the term moon brings to mind a spherical object, like Earth's Moon. The two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, are different. While both have nearly circular orbits and travel close to the plane of the planet's equator, they are lumpy and dark. Phobos is slowly drawing closer to Mars and could crash into the planet in 40 or 50 million years. Or the planet's gravity might break Phobos apart, creating a thin ring around Mars. Jupiter has 50 known moons (plus 17 awaiting official confirmation), including the largest moon in the solar system, Ganymede. Many of Jupiter's outer moons have highly elliptical orbits and orbit backwards (opposite to the spin of the planet). Saturn, Uranus and Neptune also have some irregular moons, which orbit far from their respective planets.

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ASTRO Dasar Pythagoras College Saturn has 53 known moons (plus 9 awaiting official confirmation). The chunks of ice and rock in Saturn's rings (and the particles in the rings of the other outer planets) are not considered moons, yet embedded in Saturn's rings are distinct moons or moonlets. These shepherd moons help keep the rings in line. Saturn's moon Titan, the second largest in the solar system, is the only moon with a thick atmosphere. In the realm of the ice giants, Uranus has 27 known moons. The inner moons appear to be about half water ice and half rock. Miranda is the most unusual; its chopped-up appearance shows the scars of impacts of large rocky bodies. Neptune has 13 known moons. And Neptune's moon Triton is as big as the dwarf planet Pluto and orbits backwards compared with Neptune's direction of rotation.

Pan is responsible for a gap in Saturn's rings.

Pluto's large moon Charon is about half the size of Pluto. Like Earth's Moon, Charon may have formed from debris resulting from an early collision of an impactor with Pluto. In 2005, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope to study Pluto found two additional, but very small, moons. The little moons Nix and Hydra are about two to three times as far from Pluto as Charon and roughly 5,000 times fainter than Pluto. Eris, another dwarf planet even more distant than Pluto, has a small moon of its own, named Dysnomia. Haumea, another dwarf planet, has two satellites, Hi'iaka and Namaka.

How the Moons of Our Solar System Get Their Names Most moons in our solar system are named for mythological characters from a wide variety of cultures. Uranus is the exception. Uranus' moons are named for characters in William Shakespeare's plays and from Alexander Pope's poem "Rape of the Lock." Moons are given provisional designations such as S/2009 S1, the first satellite discovered at Saturn in 2009. The International Astronomical Union approves an official name when the discovery is confirmed.

Significant Dates  1610: Galileo Galilei and Simon Marius independently discover four moons orbiting Jupiter. The moons are known as the Galilean satellites in honor of Galileo's discovery, which also confirms the planets in our solar system orbit the sun.  1877: Asaph Hall discovers Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos.  1969: Astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first of 12 men to walk on the surface of Earth's Moon.  1980: Voyager 1 instruments detect signs of surface features Huygens' image of Titan beneath the hazy atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. surface. The rocks are  2005: The European Space Agency's Huygens probe lands on the about the size of pebbles. surface of Titan. It is the first spacecraft to successfully land on a moon beyond Earth's own moon.  2000-present Using improved ground-based telescopes, orbiting observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope and spacecraft observations, scientists find dozens of new moons in our solar system.

Earth 1. Earth's Moon Mars 2. Phobos 3. Deimos Jupiter 4. Io 5. Europa

6. Ganymede 7. Callisto 8. Amalthea 9. Himalia 10. Elara 11. Pasiphae 12. Sinope 13. Lysithea 14. Carme 15. Ananke

16. Leda 17. Thebe 18. Adrastea 19. Metis 20. Callirrhoe 21. Themisto 22. Megaclite 23. Taygete 24. Chaldene 25. Harpalyke

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26. Kalyke 27. Iocaste 28. Erinome 29. Isonoe 30. Praxidike 31. Autonoe 32. Thyone 33. Hermippe 34. Aitne 35. Eurydome 36. Euanthe 37. Euporie 38. Orthosie 39. Sponde 40. Kale 41. Pasithee 42. Hegemone 43. Mneme 44. Aoede 45. Thelxinoe 46. Arche 47. Kallichore 48. Helike 49. Carpo 50. Eukelade 51. Cyllene 52. Kore 53. Herse Saturn 54. Mimas 55. Enceladus 56. Tethys 57. Dione 58. Rhea 59. Titan 60. Hyperion 61. Iapetus 62. Erriapus 63. Phoebe 64. Janus 65. Epimetheus 66. Helene 67. Telesto 68. Calypso 69. Kiviuq 70. Atlas 71. Prometheus 72. Pandora 73. Pan 74. Ymir 75. Paaliaq 76. Tarvos 77. Ijiraq 78. Suttungr 79. Mundilfari 80. Albiorix 81. Skathi 82. Siarnaq 83. Thrymr

84. Narvi 85. Methone 86. Pallene 87. Polydeuces 88. Daphnis 89. Aegir 90. Bebhionn 91. Bergelmir 92. Bestla 93. Farbauti 94. Fenrir 95. Fornjot 96. Hati 97. Hyrrokkin 98. Kari 99. Loge 100. Skoll 101. Surtur 102. Greip 103. Jarnsaxa 104. Tarqeq 105. Anthe 106. Aegaeon Uranus 107. Cordelia 108. Ophelia 109. Bianca 110. Cressida 111. Desdemona 112. Juliet 113. Portia 114. Rosalind 115. Mab 116. Belinda 117. Perdita 118. Puck 119. Cupid 120. Miranda 121. Francisco 122. Ariel 123. Umbriel 124. Titania 125. Oberon 126. Caliban 127. Stephano 128. Trinculo 129. Sycorax 130. Margaret 131. Prospero 132. Setebos 133. Ferdinand

141. Proteus 142. Halimede 143.Psamathe 144. Sao 145.Laomedeia 146. Neso Provisional Moons Jupiter 1. S/2000 J11 2. S/2003 J2 3. S/2003 J3 4. S/2003 J4 5. S/2003 J5 6. S/2003 J9 7. S/2003 J10 8. S/2003 J12 9. S/2003 J15 10. S/2003 J16 11. S/2003 J18 12. S/2003 J19 13. S/2003 J23 14. S/2010 J 1 15. S/2010 J 2 16. S/2011 J1 17. S/2011 J2 Saturn 18. S/2004 S7 19. S/2004 S12 20. S/2004 S13 21. S/2004 S17 22. S/2006 S1 23. S/2006 S3 24. S/2007 S2 25. S/2007 S3 26. S/2009 S1 Neptune 27. S/2004 N1 planets/profile.cfm?Object=S olarSys&Display=Moons

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Neptune 134. Triton 135. Nereid 136. Naiad 137. halassa 138. Despina 139. Galatea 140. Larissa

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