A Tour of the Moons of Saturn – Phoebe

Ymir, Suttung, Thrym, Mundilfari, Narvi, Tarvos, Siarnaq, Erriapo, Albiorix, Skadi, Paaliaq, Ijiraq, Kiviuq, and 12 more unnamed…

In the outer reaches of the Saturnian system lie at least 26 tiny moons. 25 of these remain faint lights in the sky, 12 of which were announced in May 2005. When Cassini-Huygens entered the Saturnian system in June 2004, it passed by and photographed the other outer moon, Phoebe…

A world previously seen only as a blurry blob taken by the distant Voyager 2 in 1981 resolved in the span of just a few days into a fantastic cratered object with towering cliffs of water ice mostly covered by very dark material. Phoebe became the first object Cassini-Huygens would flyby as it entered the Saturnian system in June 2004.

Did Phoebe form with the inner moons of Saturn during the formation of the system? Probably not. Scientists now believe that Phoebe was somehow captured during an ill-fated incursion from the outer solar system’s Kuiper Belt into the Saturnian system.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype and is forthcoming from The Laurel Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.

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