Published August 16, 2004
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA's Cassini spacecraft (search) has spied two new little moons around satellite-rich Saturn, the space agency said Monday.
Saturn's (search) tally of known moons now stands at 33.
The images were taken by Cassini on June 1 from 10 million miles out, as it approached the ringed planet. The spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn on June 30.
The two newly spotted, faint moons are about 2 miles and 2 1/2 miles across, and 120,000 miles and 131,000 miles respectively from Saturn's center. That's considerably smaller than the moons with 12 mile diameters previously discovered in Saturn's orbit.
They are located between the orbits of moons Mimas (search) and Enceladus, a surprise to scientists who thought such tiny satellites would have been shattered long ago in collisions with comets.
Researchers say they will be on the lookout for even more Saturn moons, and will seek close-ups of the ones just found.
"Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of them," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini's imaging team leader in Boulder, Colo.