Janus, Moon Of Saturn

Learn more about Janus, a moon of Saturn.

Saturn is a unique planet in the solar system because it is the only planet that has rings around it. It is a large planet that is characterized by its rings and the moons that orbit around the planet. One of Saturn's moons is named Janus.

Janus is a moon that orbits around the planet Saturn and is named after the mythological character Janus. This moon occupies basically the same orbit as the moon Epimetheus. Astronomers first believed that there was only one body in this orbit, but found out that both bodies use the same orbit around Saturn.

Janus was discovered by its first observer Audouin Dollfus on December 15, 1966. This body was given a different name to suffice until it was studied a little bit more. Jean Texereau had photographed Janus in October of 1966 without realizing that it was a moon of Saturn. It took twelve years to realize that the discovery made in 1966 was in fact Janus. Along with the discovery of Janus came the discovery of Epimetheus as they share the same orbit around Saturn. Soon many people were observing Janus without knowing exactly what they were seeing. It took until March 1, 1980 to confirm the existence of Janus using the Voyager 1 probe. Since it took so long to actually confirm this moon's existence, all the observers' too rightful credit for its discovery.

The name for this body, Janus, was proposed shortly after its discovery in 1966, but was not formally given this name until 1983.

Janus is extensively cratered, and has several craters larger than 30 kilometers. This moon has a relatively low density and is aged somewhere in the middle of all of Saturn's moons. Because of the low density of Janus, she is thought to have an icy body, but it has yet to be confirmed as to if this is correct or not.

Janus is the sixth moon of Saturn, and the name is based on the god of gates and doorways. This is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Though Janus is covered in craters and is thought to be several billion years old, she has an irregular shape. Janus orbits 151,472 kilometers from Saturn's center, which is the same as saying about 91,000 kilometers from the cloud tops. Since the orbit is shared with another moon, it is quite unique in how it works.

Janus and Epimetheus are only separated by 50 kilometers. When they pass by each other during the orbit, they exchange positions. This means that whatever moon was on the inside of the orbit moves to the outside and the outside moon moves to the inside. This exchange happens about once every four years. Janus and Epimetheus are thought to be brother and sister, and may have been formed by a disruption of a single parent to form their orbital routes.

Saturn has many moons, and Janus is one of the most unique as it shares its orbit with another moon very close by. Janus also is characterized by craters and a low density, which may presume that she is made of mostly ice. Though Janus has an irregular shape, she is a beautiful moon that orbits around Saturn.

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