This picture shows the surface of Phoebe. There are many large craters on Phoebe's surface. The picture was taken by the Cassini spacecraft in 2004.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.


Phoebe is the name of a moon of Saturn. Phoebe is a fairly small moon. It is about 220 km (137 miles) across. Eight of Saturn's moons are larger than Phoebe. A whole bunch of Saturn's moons are smaller than Phoebe.

An astronomer named William Henry Pickering discovered Phoebe in 1898.

The name "Phoebe" comes from Greek mythology. In the Greek myths, Phoebe was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She was also the grandmother of Apollo and Artemis.

Some things about Phoebe are strange. The moon moves around Saturn in a very odd orbit. Most of Saturn's moons are very light in color, but Phoebe is very dark.

Why is Phoebe so strange? Many astronomers think Phoebe used to be an asteroid or Kuiper Belt Object. They think Saturn's strong gravity captured Phoebe sometime long ago.

Astronomers want to learn more about Phoebe. Right now, our only pictures of Phoebe are very fuzzy. They were made by Voyager 2 in 1981. Soon we should have much better pictures! The Cassini spacecraft will fly very close past Phoebe on June 11, 2004.

Last modified October 8, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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