You can help name Saturn's 20 new moons

You can help name Saturn's 20 new moons

You can help name Saturn's 20 new moons

Currently, astronomers are "only able to find moons that are a a few miles in size around Saturn because the planet is so far away", he said. In many ways, Earth's moon is the flawless introduction to teach humanity some very basic things about how the universe works. "There's so many of these moons now, there's nearly guaranteed to be one of these moons somewhere near where the spacecraft enters the Jupiter or Saturn environment".

The discovery was announced on Monday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Centre.

Their findings have earned Saturn the top spot among planets in this solar system, for having the maximum number of moons.

According to the researchers, each of the newly discovered moons is about 3 miles (5 km) in diameter. This motion is known as a retrograde orbit, and the fact that many of them appear to be grouped up suggests that their origins are linked to collisions between larger objects in Saturn's orbit, possibly between ancient Saturn moons or impacts between the moon and other objects, like asteroids.

Illustration is courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Saturn image is courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. "These moons are the remnants of the objects that helped form the planets, so by studying them, we are learning about what the planets formed from".

A graphic showing Saturn's 20 new moons. Two of the prograde moons require around two years to make a complete orbit of the gas giant, while the remaining 18 moons require more than three years to make a single orbit (our Moon requires 27 days to make a complete orbit around Earth).

Two of the newly discovered prograde moons fit into a group of outer moons with inclinations of about 46 degrees called the Inuit group. One moon, which is also prograde but belongs to a different group, is to be named for a giant in Gallic mythology.

Seventeen of them orbit the planet backwards, or in a retrograde direction, according to the Carnegie Institution for Science's Scott Sheppard, who led the discovery team.

The Carnegie Institution for Science held a contest to name five of them and are doing the same this year, but for all 20 moons. They're taking the same approach with this new group of moons. The Norse group, like the Inuit group, is believed to have originated from a much larger object that broke up into smaller pieces, likely from a collision.

Well this time, Sheppard is asking for the moons to be named "after giants from Norse, Gallic or Inuit mythology".

The contest, which opened Monday and runs through December 6, is not entirely open, lest the American public be tempted to name the moons something ridiculous. Sorry, but Saturn McSaturnFace won't be allowed, as the names have to conform to their mythological groupings, along with other naming conventions.

If you discovered a moon, what would you name it?

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