Satellites

11.6 - Understand the following principal characteristics of the planets:
e) presence of satellites

A satellite is another name for a moon.

All but two planets (Mercury and Venus) in the Solar System have satellites. Occasionally new moons of the outer planets are discovered. You may want to look up the latest numbers for yourself.

Dwarf planets and even asteroids have been found to have satellites.

Astronomers believe there are 3 different ways a satellite evolves:

  1. A satellite forms in the same area of space as the planet e.g. Jupiter’s Galilean Moons
  2. A satellite is captured by the Planet e.g. Phobos and Deimos of Mars, Triton of Neptune
  3. A satellite evolves from the debris from an impact with the planet e.g. Earth's Moon

 

Interesting Moons worth researching

  • Phobos & Deimos (Mars)
  • Io, Europa (Jupiter)
  • Titan, Enceladus (Saturn)
  • Triton (Neptune)

Planet Satellites
Planet Number of satellites
Mercury 0
Venus 0
Earth 1
Mars 2
Jupiter 79
Saturn 62
Uranus 27
Neptune 14
Questions - Just for fun
  • What differences are there between the origins of the satellites of Mars with the largest moons of Jupiter and Neptune?
  • Why are some moons in the Solar System geologically active
Links
Summary

Natural Satellites: Orbit a larger body in space
Man made Satellites: Made by humans

Dwarf Planet Satellites
Dwarf Planet Number of satellites
Ceres 0
Pluto 5
Haumea 2
Makemake 1
Eris 1