New Moon Found in Saturn's Rings

Thursday, May 12 2005 @ 12:13 pm EDT

Contributed by: Marcus

The international Cassini spacecraft has spied a tiny new moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer ring, scientists said.

The moon was spotted earlier this month in the center of the Keeler gap, making waves in the gap edges as it orbits. 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, Joseph Spitale, a planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said Tuesday.

S/2005 S1 is the second moon known 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.

Cassini/Huygens Home Page

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