Phoebe

Phoebe

Phoebe is a bit of an oddball because it is only one of two moons that orbits outside the plane of Saturn's other major moons (Iapetus is the other).

Phoebe also stands out because it orbits in the opposite direction to the other major moons and is very dark in colour. All of these characteristics lead many astronomers to think that Phoebe did not form around Saturn but was an object - possibly from the Kuiper Belt - captured by Saturn's strong gravity.

Photo: Phoebe taken by the Cassini probe (Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)

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Phoebe

About Phoebe

An oddball moon orbits Saturn.

About Phoebe

Phoebe (/ˈfiːbiː/; Greek: Φοίβη) is an irregular satellite of Saturn a little over 200 km in diameter. It is thought to be a captured planetesimal from the Kuiper belt. It was discovered by William Henry Pickering on 17 March 1899 from photographic plates that had been taken starting on 16 August 1898 at the Boyden Observatory near Arequipa, Peru, by DeLisle Stewart. It was the first satellite to be discovered photographically.

Phoebe was the first target encountered upon the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft to the Saturn system in 2004, and is thus unusually well-studied for a natural satellite of its size. Cassini's trajectory to Saturn and time of arrival were specifically chosen to permit this flyby. After the encounter and its insertion into orbit, Cassini would not go much beyond the orbit of Iapetus.

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