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Saturn Summary

Saturn

Saturn Moon: Janus!

This Voyager 1 picture was taken of Janus in front of Saturn's rings. It was acquired on November 12, 1981. This is a high resolution Voyager 2 spacecraft image of Janus that was taken on August 25, 1981.


Janus is the sixth satellite of Saturn and was discovered by Audouin Dollfus in 1966. The moon has an irregular shape of 196x192x150 kilometers in diameter and has thousands of craters that dot the surface. This indicates that the surface must be at least several billion years old and that Janus is one of the oldest moons of Saturn.

Janus is in the same orbit of Epimetheus and thus share the orbit of 151,472 from the center of Saturn. They are separated by a short distance of 50 kilometers and undergo an interesting process when they encounter one another at close range. Once every four years, the two moons exchange momentum and as a result, one moon is flung inward while the other outward. Thus they actually swap orbits! The two moons may have once had a large parent and formed from the disruption of it. Janus was named after the god of gates and doorways and is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions.


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