Moons of the Solar System vary in size and features. There are several moons in the Solar System which are larger than both the planets Mercury and Pluto and some moons feature volcanoes, atmospheres and even oceans. Lets explore.
Moons of the Solar System with Earth for Scale
Lets take a journey and learn about the Moons in our Solar System.
Are you ready? Lets Go!
Lets pretend we have a really big spaceship and we’re going to travel around our solar system like tourists and check out the wonderful moons. Learn some amazing facts. Enjoy!
Lets start from the Inner Planets
Planet Mercury has no moons.
Mercury is the closest planet to our sun. It has been visited by a few spacecraft like Mariner 10 and Messenger Spacecraft. Bepicolombo will be the next mission to visit.
Are Vulcanoids moons? No. Vulcanoids are small, rocky asteroids that have been thought to orbit the Sun in stable orbits inside Mercury’s orbit. Vulcanoids are named after Vulcan, a hypothetical planet once proposed to explain unusual motions in orbit of Mercury. Messenger spacecraft searched for them, but did not find any.
Planet Venus has no moons.
What! Venus has no moon. Are you surprised? Venus and Mercury are only planets that have no moons orbiting them.
Planet Earth has one moon. Earth’s moon name is the Moon.
The Moon is Earth’s only permanent natural satellite. Distance from Earth to Moon is about 384,400 km (238,900 miles).
Compare Sizes: Earth Moon Picture…Earth is much larger
It has been explored by robotic spacecraft. First time the moon was visited by humans was in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission. The last person to walk on the moon was Eugene Cernan during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Planet Mars has two moons and they are called Deimos and Phobos.
Phobos and Deimos were both discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall. Phobos in Greek means fear. Deimos in Greek means terror. Phobos orbits closer to Mars. Deimos is the smaller than Phobos.
In the future the first humans missions may visit the moons. The first step maybe to set up a Mars Space Station in orbit around the planet. Lockheed Martin announced its vision in 2016 to launch a Mars Base Camp by 2028. From there humans could visit and explore the moons of Mars.
Deimos is the preferred destination for a human mission because easier to travel to, further than Phobos from Mars and better for tele-operating Rovers and other vehicles on Mars, it is sunlit more often and has better communications access to Earth.
We are now Entering the Asteroid Belt
What is the Asteroid Belt? Asteroid Belt is the area located between orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroid Belt consists space rocks, asteroids and minor planets.
There are various theories in how the Asteroid Belt was formed. Some scientists think the asteroid belt was made up of material that was never able to form into a planet. Other scientists think the material are remnants of a planet that blew up or was hit by a comet millions of years ago.
Dwarf Planet Ceres has no moons.
Dawn Spacecraft is currently in its orbit.
We’re now heading to the Outer Planets
Hold on your seats! Were’ going to travel to Planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and then to Dwarf Planet Pluto and beyond into the Kuiper Belt.
Are you having a good time? Everybody says yeah!!!
For your next trip consider getting some Space Food, its nice to snack while your on your journey.
7,6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Zero Blast off!
The large gas giants have extensive systems of moons, including half a dozen comparable in size to Earth’s moon: the four Galilean moons, Saturn’s Titan and Neptune’s Triton.
Saturn has an additional six mid-sized moons and Uranus has five.
Largest Moons in the Solar System…Note the sizes of Planet Mercury, our Moon and Pluto.
Planet Jupiter has 63 moons.
The most popular Jupiter Moons are Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, Io.
The Galilean Moons are the four largest moons of Planet Jupiter: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa. They were discovered by Galileo Galilei around January 1610. They were the first group of objects found to orbit another planet.
Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, is larger than Planet Mercury while the other three are larger than Dwarf Planet Pluto.
Planet Saturn has 62 moons.
Moons of Saturn range in size from smaller than a football stadium to larger than the Planet Mercury. They vary in composition, colour and texture. Their distance within the Saturn system varies from as close as 133,600 kms (83,015 miles) to the planet to as far as almost 13 million kms (8 million miles).
Planet Saturn, its famous Rings and Moons
Famous moons include:
Pan is a walnut-shaped moon. It is the second-innermost moon of Saturn. It orbits within the Encke Gap in Saturn’s A Ring.
Mimas moon features Herschel Crater which makes it look like the Death Star from Star Wars movie.
It is the second-largest moon in the Solar System, after Jupiter’s moon Ganymede and is larger than Planet Mercury, the smallest planet.
Planet Uranus has 27 moons.
Uranus has five major moons: Ariel, Miranda, Oberon, Titania and Umbriel. Titania is the largest moon of Uranus. Its diameter is 1578 km. The first two moons: Titania and Oberon were discovered in 1787.
All the Moons of Planet Uranus are named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.
Planet Neptune has 13 moons.
Neptune is the 8th and last planet in our Solar System.
Triton is the largest moon of planet Neptune. It was discovered on 10 October, 1846 by English astronomer William Lassell. It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit (an orbit in the opposite direction to its planet’s rotation).
Dwarf Planet Pluto has 5 moons.
The five Moons of Pluto are: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.
Interesting Picture….Charon Moons and the Small Pluto Moons
Charon is the largest of the five moons. Charon is mutually tidally locked with Pluto. Charon moon / Pluto are considered a double dwarf planet.
What is the Kuiper Belt? Kuiper Belt is a region of icy bodies which includes Dwarf Planet Pluto and comets.
Where is the Kuiper Belt? It is located 30 AU (Astronomical Units) from the Sun and continues to about 50 AU away from the Sun.
Orcus has 1 moon and its called Vanth.
Dwarf Planet Eris has 2 moons. Eris is bigger than Pluto.
Among the dwarf planets, Ceres has no moons. Pluto has the relatively large moon Charon and three smaller moons. Haumea has two moons and Eris has one.
Did you know?
* 173 moons are orbiting six of the eight planets and seven orbiting three of the five dwarf planets.
The closest moon to our Sun is the Earth’s Moon.
The largest moon in our Solar System is Ganymede. The second largest moon is Planet Saturn’s Titan. Third largest moon is Callisto.
Moons of the Solar System Links:
- Moons of the Solar System: A selection of our solar system’s natural satellites are shown here to scale compared to the Earth and its moon. Image Credit: NASA
- Table of Moons in Solar System: Discovery, Size and Orbital Period:
- The Moons of all the Planets: Go Astronomy lists all the planets in our solar system.
- The Solar System’s Major Moons:
- Everything Worth Knowing About … Moons of Our Solar System:
- How Many Moons are in the Solar System? by Universe Today.
- 10 Moons Every Person Should Know by io9
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