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Pallene (moon)

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Title: Pallene (moon)  
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Pallene (moon)

Pallene in September 2010
Discovered by Voyager 2 (first discovery)
Cassini Imaging Team [1]
Discovery date June 1, 2004 (second discovery by Cassini-Huygens)
S/1981 S 14 (first discovery)
S/2004 S 2 (second discovery)
Orbital characteristics[2]
Epoch June 20, 2004 (JD 2453177.5)
212,280 ± 5 km
Eccentricity 0.0040
1.153745829 d[3]
Inclination 0.1810 ± 0.0014° (to Saturn's equator)
Satellite of Saturn
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 2.9×2.8×2.0 km [4]
Mean radius
2.5 ± 0.6 km [4]

Pallene ( ; Greek: Παλλήνη) is a very small natural satellite of Saturn. It is one of three small moons known as the Alkyonides that lie between the orbits of the larger Mimas and Enceladus. It is also designated as Saturn XXXIII (33).


  • Discovery 1
  • Orbital characteristics 2
  • Ring 3
  • Exploration 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Discovery image of Pallene in 2004 from the Cassini probe

Pallene was discovered by the Cassini Imaging Team in 2004, during the Cassini–Huygens mission.[5][6] It was given the temporary designation S/2004 S 2. In 2005, the name Pallene was provisionally approved by the IAU Division III Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature,[7] and was ratified at the IAU General Assembly in 2006. The name refers to Pallene, one of the Alkyonides, the seven beautiful daughters of the giant Alkyoneus.

After the discovery in 2004, it was realized that Pallene had been first photographed on August 23, 1981, by the space probe Voyager 2. It had appeared in a single photograph and had been provisionally named S/1981 S 14 and estimated to orbit 200,000 km from Saturn.[8] Because it had not been visible in other images, it had not been possible to compute its orbit at the time, but recent comparisons have shown it to match Pallene's orbit.[2]

Orbital characteristics

Pallene is visibly affected by a perturbing mean-longitude resonance with the much larger Enceladus, although this effect is not as large as Mimas's perturbations on Methone. The perturbations cause Pallene's osculating orbital elements to vary with an amplitude of about 4 km in semi-major axis, and 0.02° in longitude (corresponding to about 75 km). Eccentricity also changes on various timescales between 0.002 and 0.006, and inclination between about 0.178° and 0.184°.[2]


In 2006, images taken in forward-scattered light by the Cassini spacecraft enabled the Cassini Imaging Team to discover a faint dust ring around Saturn that shares Pallene's orbit, now named the Pallene Ring.[9][10] The ring has a radial extent of about 2,500 km. Its source is particles blasted off Pallene's surface by meteoroid impacts, which then form a diffuse ring around its orbital path.[11][12]


The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft, which is currently studying Saturn and its moons, performed a fly-by of Pallene on 16 October 2010, at a distance of 36,000 kilometeres (22,000 miles).


  1. ^ Cassini Imaging Team.
  2. ^ a b c Spitale Jacobson et al. 2006.
  3. ^ NASA Celestia
  4. ^ a b Thomas 2010.
  5. ^ IAUC 8389.
  6. ^ Porco Baker et al. 2005.
  7. ^ IAUC 8471.
  8. ^ IAUC 6162.
  9. ^ IAUC 8759.
  10. ^ Moonmade RingsCICLOPS 2006, .
  11. ^ JPL/NASA: Creating New Rings.
  12. ^ Hedman et al., 2009.

Further reading

  • "Cassini Imaging Science Team". Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • "Moonmade Rings". Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS. October 11, 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • Green, Daniel W. E. (April 14, 1995). "Possible Satellites of Saturn". IAU Circular 6162. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • Green, Daniel W. E. (August 16, 2004). "S/2004 S 1 and S/2004 S 2" (discovery). IAU Circular 8389. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • Green, Daniel W. E. (January 21, 2005). "S/2004 S 1 and S/2004 S 2" (naming the moon). IAU Circular 8471. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • Green, Daniel W. E. (October 11, 2006). "Rings of Saturn (R/2006 S 1, R/2006 S 2, R/2006 S 3, R/2006 S 4)". IAU Circular 8759. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • Hedman, M. M.; Murray, C. D.; Cooper, N. J.; Tiscareno, M. S.; Beurle, K.; Evans, M. W.; Burns, J. A. (2008-11-25). "Three tenuous rings/arcs for three tiny moons". Icarus 199 (2): 378–386.  
  • "NASA Finds Saturn's Moons May Be Creating New Rings". Cassini Solstice Mission. JPL/NASA. October 11, 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  • Porco, C. C.; Baker, E.; Barbara, J.; Beurle, K.; Brahic, A.; Burns, J. A.; Charnoz, S.; Cooper, N.; Dawson, D. D.; Del Genio, A. D.; Denk, T.; Dones, L.; Dyudina, U.; Evans, M. W.; Giese, B.; Grazier, K.; Helfenstein, P.; Ingersoll, A. P.; Jacobson, R. A.; Johnson, T. V.; McEwen, A.; Murray, C. D.; Neukum, G.; Owen, W. M.; Perry, J.; Roatsch, T.; Spitale, J.; Squyres, S.; Thomas, P.; Tiscareno, M. (February 25, 2005). "Cassini Imaging Science: Initial Results on Saturn's Rings and Small Satellites". Science 307 (5713): 1226–1236.  
  • Spitale, J. N.; Jacobson, R. A.; Porco, C. C.; Owen, W. M., Jr. (2006). imaging observations"Cassini"The orbits of Saturn's small satellites derived from combined historic and (PDF). The Astronomical Journal 132 (2): 692–710.  
  • Thomas, P. C. (July 2010). "Sizes, shapes, and derived properties of the saturnian satellites after the Cassini nominal mission" (PDF). Icarus 208 (1): 395–401.  

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Pallene Profile by NASA's Solar System Exploration
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