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Saturn: Number One In Moons

Oct 16, 2019

Illustration is courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Saturn image is courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. Starry background courtesy of Paolo Sartorio/Shutterstock.

Illustration is courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Saturn image is courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. Starry background courtesy of Paolo Sartorio/Shutterstock.

There has been some excellent space news published in recent weeks. New missions to explore the solar system, new advancements in the private sector of space exploration, and many more. The latest huge story: more moons have been discovered orbiting Saturn.

Astronomers using a huge telescope in Hawaii have discovered 20 new moons bringing Saturn’s total to 82 moons. Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, has 79. That makes Saturn the moon king among local planets.

Pacific Science Center Planetarian Dakota Spear tells us these new moons — well, new to humans anyway — appear to have been created when larger moons smashed into each other a very long time ago. She says most of them are about three miles in diameter, so they’re small. But in a fun twist, giants are being used in a moon naming contest; giants from Norse, Inuit, and Gallic mythology. If you’re a mythology fan, now’s your chance to make a little history.

But these newly discovered moons are providing scientists with new clues into the origins of the universe and may hold keys to finding life out there.

“Many of the moons in our solar system are the most interesting bodies in our solar system,” she says. “I mean, there are so many moons that I think are way cooler than most of the planets in our solar system and now we have 20 new ones to go and explore.”

And maybe find the answers we’re looking for.

Listen to the PacSci Podcast embedded below and use the resources here for more information about this very exciting discovery.

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