Saturn is the new Solar System moon king after astronomical discovery

Saturn NASA JPL

Saturn may have always stood in Jupiter’s larger shadow, but the gas giant can lay claim to one title in the Solar System: it has the most known moons of any planet.

According to new research announced by the International Astronomical Union, humans have now discovered 82 moons orbiting Saturn. That’s three more than Jupiter.

Research was a collaboration between Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard, UCLA’s David Jewitt, and the University of Hawaii’s Jan Kleyna.

The 20 newly discovered moons are all around five kilometres in diameter. Three of them orbit the planet against Saturn’s own rotation around its axis.

Orbit durations — Earth years — vary from two to more than three years. And one in particular is now the furthest known moon from the planet, the research suggests.

The researchers are now asking the public to name the moons using the names of “giants” from Inuit, Norse and Gallic mythology.

2019 has been an incredible year for Saturnian research, largely thanks to Cassini’s final death-dive into the planet two years earlier.

The spacecraft also captured details of Saturn’s rings, in which a number of undiscovered moons likely lurk.

Featured image: NASA/JPL/Caltech

Andy Walker
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