Space missions and scientific inquiries into the solar system have revealed that presence of 174 moons that orbit around major celestial bodies, and we’ve decided to introduce you to the most fascinating bunch of all.
At present, 174 moons have been named within the solar system, and these moons are found to be orbiting the six outermost planets that we are aware of. Every day, more moons are being identified and astronauts are debating over validating their existence. Many moons, especially the ones that we have listed down below, are brimming with fascination and wonder due to their peculiar features, landscapes, orbits and atmosphere.
Here, take a look at the 20 most incredible moons orbiting across the solar system:
1. Dactyl – The Satellite Moon
Dactyl is a natural satellite that revolves around a Koronis asteroid, known as Asteroid 243 Ida, which is situated in the belt between Jupiter and Mars. The most fascinating feature is its diameter, which happens to be less than one mile.
Dactyl was discovered by the Galileo probe, conducted back in 1995, before which scientists had no proof that even asteroids could have their own moons. After Dactyl was discovered, scientific space probes managed to identify 24 moons that orbit asteroids. Experts are unsure about how Dactyl originated, but most believe that it might be a captured object, or maybe it is an asteroid as well.
2. Atlas – The Flying Sauce
Atlas happens to be the innermost moon to orbit around Saturn, and it has a rather peculiar shape that mimics that of a flying saucer. It gets this fascinating shape from its equatorial ridge and an average radius of around 15 km. In 1980, the space probe mission carried out by Voyager 1 managed to click several images during its journey past Saturn, which led to the discovery of Atlas. It is extremely close to Saturn, and scientists believe that it is capable of completing one orbit in no more than 14.4 hours.
2. Charon – Pluto’s Twin
Even though Pluto is no longer a planet, it is hard to create a perfect list of interesting moons without listing down the most fascinating of them all. Charon is around half the size of its mother planet, and these two are often regarded as a system of two dwarf planets, especially since they orbit around a focal point rather than Pluto being at the center of the orbit.
Charon was identified by the Hubble Space Telescope, when it revealed pictures of a rather oddly elongated Pluto, which originally features a sphere-like shape. It has gotten its name from a ferryman in popular mythical cultures, who was responsible for carrying the souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead, and would need a coin that would grant the soul permission to enter the underworld.
In 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft paid a symbolic tribute to the ferryman by carrying a Florida state quarter while crossing Pluto and Charon.