Saturn is a very interesting planet in our Solar System for several strong reasons. It’s made almost entirely of gases, it’s the second-biggest planet, and it has those iconic rings made of ice and rock, just to say the least. However, not many people know that Saturn is also teeming with moons.
While our Earth only has one moon, Saturn has 83 such natural satellites. While some of those moons are huge, as they can be comparable in size to planet Mercury, others can barely have any spherical form. One of the moons from the latter category is Helene, which has a radius of just about 17 kilometers.
Helene is also a Trojan moon, which means that it shares Saturn’s path around the Sun. Thanks to NASA’s advanced scientific gear, we can now admire the moon of the Saturn gas giant in all its glory, as the ‘Picture of the Day’ of the space agency sheds light.
Saturns Moon Helene in Color: https://t.co/7257iNz5Rx by @NASA, @NASAJPL, SSI; Processing: @danielmachacek_ pic.twitter.com/kZyI0oJMnP
— Astronomy Picture Of the Day (@apod) April 30, 2023
NASA explains more about Helene:
Helene, a small and faint moon of Saturn, is referred to as a Trojan moon because it shares its orbit with another moon—Dione, a moon hundreds of times larger than Helene. This complex orbital arrangement is held steady by gravity: Helene is located at a Lagrange point, where it feels the tug of gravity equally from distant Saturn and nearby Dione. For this reason, soon after it was discovered in 1980 it was called Dione B.
Helene is so small that you could compare its radius to the diameter of a small town. The moon orbits at a distance of over 377,00 km away from the Sun, and it takes 2.7 Earth days to complete one full orbit.
The orbital period of Helene is just 66 hours. In other words, the little moon is on a rapid course around the Sun.