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Recent Discoveries

Recent Discoveries

There were only 18 known moons orbiting Saturn when the Cassini spacecraft began its historic mission to the Ringed Planet in 1997. During Cassini's seven-year journey to Saturn, Earth-based telescopes uncovered 13 more moons.

Soon after the spacecraft finally reached Saturn on July 1, 2004, Cassini team members discovered two tiny moons, Methone and Pallene (see Out from the Shadows: Two New Saturnian Moons).

In September of the same year, Cassini discovered Polydeuces, another tiny moon 377,400 kilometers (about 234,500 miles) from Saturn (see Cassini Discovers Ring and One, Possibly Two, Objects at Saturn).

The search for moons continues as Cassini team members and astronomers using ground-based telescopes explore the vast Saturnian region.


Aug. 7, 2009

A Small Find Near Equinox

The Cassini spacecraft captured this image of a small object in the outer portion of Saturn's B ring casting a shadow on the rings as Saturn approaches its August 2009 equinox.

May 5, 2009

Saturnian Satellite Named Aegaeon

The name Aegaeon has been approved for Saturn LIII. Aegaeon is a hundred-armed giant, called Briareus by the gods. For more information, see the "Planet and Satellite Names and Discoverers" page in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

March 3, 2008

Newfound Moon May Be Source of Outer Saturn Ring -- NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has found within Saturn’s G ring an embedded moonlet that appears as a faint, moving pinprick of light. Scientists believe it is a main source of the G ring and its single ring arc.

Feb. 19, 2008

Cassini Finds Mingling Moons May Share a Dark Past -- Despite the incredible diversity of Saturn's icy moons, theirs is a story of great interaction. Some of them are pock-marked, some seemingly dirty, others pristine, one spongy, one two-faced, some still spewing with activity and some seeming to be captured from the far reaches of the solar system. Yet many of them have a common thread -- black "stuff" coating their surfaces.

Dec. 6, 2007

Images of Saturn's Small Moons Tell the Story of Their Origins -- Imaging scientists on NASA's Cassini mission are telling a tale of how the small moons orbiting near the outer rings of Saturn came to be. The moons began as leftover shards from larger bodies that broke apart and filled out their "figures" with the debris that made the rings.

July 19, 2007

Saturn Turns 60 -- Scientists have recently discovered that the planet Saturn is turning 60 -- not years, but moons.

The newly discovered moon first appeared as a very faint dot in a series of images Cassini took of the Saturnian ring system on May 30 of this year.

May 3, 2005

Astronomers from the University of Hawaii announced the discovery of 12 moons in the outskirts of the Saturnian region. Because these moons were first observed in 2004, they are temporarily being called S/2004 S7, S/2004 S8, S/2004 S9, S/2004 S10, S/2004 S11, S/2004 S12, S/2004 S13, S/2004 S14, S/2004 S15, S/2004 S16, S/2004 S17 and S/2004 S18.

May 1, 2005

Earlier suspicions of an unseen moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer A ring were confirmed by a time-lapse sequence of images taken by Cassini's cameras. The images show the tiny object in the center of the Keeler gap and the wavy patterns in the gap edges that are generated by the moon's gravitational influence.

The new object, Daphnis, is about 7 kilometers (4 miles) across and reflects about half the light falling on it -- a brightness that is typical of the particles in the nearby rings. The moon orbits approximately 136,505 kilometers (84,820 miles) from the center of Saturn. More observations will be needed to determine whether the moon's orbit around Saturn is circular or eccentric. For more information on Daphnis, previously called S/2005 S1, see Cassini Finds New Saturn Moon that Makes Waves.

  • Blend space exploration with reading and writing -- Reading, Writing & Rings!
  • Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Students get involved
  • Cassini Raw Images