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Questions tagged [natural-satellites]

Questions on celestial bodies that orbit planets.

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Wondering about a horseshoe orbit

Since I'm not a physicist, I want to know how that system works. For instance, if there was a planet, very similar to the Earth, but with two moons, and the moons where in a horseshoe orbit, how does ...
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Could the Moon naturally capture a large asteroid and keep it as a subsatellite? For how long?

(Edited at James K's recommendation to stay on-topic for this SE.) From my reading on this SE and from Googling I've gotten conflicting reports on the viability of subsatellites this close to the Sun,...
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Angles in Moon, Earth and Sun system

Consider the vector positions of the center of mass of Moon, Sun and Earth, $\vec{r}_{\rm M}$, $\vec{r}_{\rm S}$, $\vec{r}_{\rm E}$, respectively, in a given reference frame. Consider: the angle ...
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What colours can rocky planets (or moons) have

I am currently working on a simple program to randomly generate and display rocky exoplanets (for a space based strategy game), but I am having some problems figuring out what colour the rocks of ...
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So is there nothing like satellite anymore?

I just read this article. I don't know how credible it is, since I couldn't find any link to the original paper. But it says that pluto will be considered a planet again, along with more than 100 ...
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Why do Uranus' and Pluto's moons orbit the equator? What makes a moons' inclination tilt with the rotational axis of their planet?

Uranus and Pluto have their axes of rotation almost 90 degrees towards the ecliptic. But why do their moons tilt the same way? Does it mean that their tilts were caused by passing near some external ...
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Can the Moon provide momentum to an object in Earth's orbit? Gravity Assisted Boost [closed]

Can a satellite maintain an equatorial orbit around Earth near the Moon's orbit to receive partial gravitational boosts by gaining momentum as the satellite passes though the Moon's gravity well? I'...
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Which celestial object in the solar system has the fastest tangential velocity at its surface?

Consider all of the naturally-occurring objects in the solar system : in the reference frame of the object's center (ie, ignoring the orbital velocity around the sun or, in the case of satellites, ...
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How do we know that a natural satellite cannot be a hollow object?

In their 1966 book, Intelligent Life in the Universe, Carl Sagan and Iosif Shklovsky state that "a natural satellite cannot be a hollow object." How do we know this is absolutely true?
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I think I saw a satellite disappear? or was it a star?

so i was gazing out of my balcony randomly and all of a sudden this red light moves across above, initial thought was that it was a star but it didn't blink, second thoughts was maybe a planet but it ...
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Could a moon of a mini-neptune around a red dwarf harbour life?

I am planning a game where on could control evolution on an alien world. I was thinking red dwarf as per here Habitable Planet around Red Dwarf To my understanding three questions arise: Tidal lock ...
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How would a small TCO (temporarily captured orbiter) or other natural Earth satellite most likely be detected?

A sentence from the abstract of The population of natural Earth satellites states: At any given time there should be at least one NES of 1-meter diameter orbiting the Earth. The average temporarily-...
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How massive must a rocky body be to liquify adequately to eliminate internal mass concentrations that could disrupt natural satellite orbits?

Maybe a slightly weird question, and maybe more appropriate for some future geophysics SE, but I feel like this is what questions like Do moons have moons? are really driving at, and it just almost ...
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If a captured moon has prograde, circular and equatorial orbit, can we know it is captured?

As we know, Triton has retrograde orbit , which is an stong evidence it is captured by Neptune. Suppose if a moon is captured, but results in prograde orbit, and the orbit becomes circular and lies on ...
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More than 67 Jovian moons?

Wikipedia says that there are now 67 known moons of Jupiter. It got me wondering: is it really possible in our day and age that there are more, but we haven't observed them yet? On the other hand, ...
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Could this three moons system be stable?

In my fictional world I have selected all parameters to maximize the Hills Sphere of my planet. The planet has three times Earth's mass and it is located in 2 AU from its star that's 1.4 times more ...
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Is it possible for a moon to continuously have a side facing its star whilst orbiting a planet?

For example; is there any possibility for the moon to always have a side facing the Sun whilst orbiting Earth? And if so then what would the day cycle be like?
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If Venus had moon before and it fell back to Venus, why don't I see a unique, very big crater?

Does lack of a very big crater support the idea that Venus never had big moons before? If not, why can't I find a very big crater from the moon impact?
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Is it possible that Mercury was originally the moon of Venus after a giant impact?

Mercury looks like the Moon, and so it makes me think about a question: is it possible that Venus and Mercury were the a same planet originally, and a giant impact with that planet made it split into ...
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What planets and moons have we seeded with life (if any)?

Which planets and moons have we accidentally (or purposely) seeded with life? I would expect this to be any planet or moon we have sent an unsterilized (or not fully sterilized) lander to, or crashed ...
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544 views

What effect does a natural satellite have on a planet's rotation and revolution?

how is the rotation and revolution of a planet that does not have a natural satellite different from a planet that has say 1 natural satellite (ex. earth and moon system).
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Which moons have cold traps? (i.e. low ecliptic inclination in orbital and rotational axes)

Both the Moon and Mercury have polar cold traps in polar craters, with signs of volatiles. This is of course not as interesting on a moon in the outer Solar System which consists of volatiles anyway. ...
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Are moons geologically active?

Are there natural satellites in the Solar System that are geologically active? This includes volcanism, existence and motion of tectonic plates, et cetera. Is it a common or a rather rare feature ...
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How to cool down a moon?

I'm doing an Astronomy project and need to terraform a moon. It is about the size of Mars and orbits a gas giant which is at a distance of 1.28 AU of its star. I though about putting a sunshade at the ...
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Why does Saturn have both moons and rings?

From my understanding, a ring can form around a planet when a moon gets too close to its Roche limit, and gets ripped appart by the planet's gravity pull. That makes sense to me, but I don't ...
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Can we have a second moon?

This question sounds like silly and rather fantasy filled. But can our earth's gravity capture a sizable asteroid and make it rotate around our earth like our moon which become visible from ground. Is ...
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Can a gas moon exist?

Could a gaseous moon exist in the same way as a giant gas planet? All the moons in the solar system are rocky, or icy. Why shouldn't gas planets have gas moons?
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Why is the Color scheme of natural satellites in our solar system based of light shades of grey?

What is the explanation of the color similarity that the majority of natural satellites obtain?
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How is it that all planets (and moons) in our solar system are in equilibrium orbits?

Previously, I was told that in order for any bodies to orbit each other for over a long period of time, the orbital period, distance and masses have to be precisely matched such that the bodies won't ...
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The dark side of the moon [duplicate]

I encountered this statement that the dark side of the moon is hidden from our sights. Could someone please explain?
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How is the heat production inside moons compliant with Conservation of Energy?

A Nova episode said that during stages of some moons' elliptical orbits, the moon is stretched, and friction causes the inside of the moon to heat up. I do not understand how this is compliant with ...
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Is there some upper limit in the moon size distribution?

The planets range hugely in sizes, Jupiter is more than 300 times as massive as Earth. But the sizes of the large moons seem to be uncorrelated with the sizes of the planets they orbit. Why doesn't ...
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Do celestial bodies have many asteroids orbiting them?

Are there statistics on the expected number of asteroids (of various sizes) to orbit planets and moons in our (or other) solar systems? Do we know of other natural bodies orbiting the Earth (besides ...
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How can exoplanet moons be detected? [duplicate]

How can exoplanet moons be detected? Are there current methods to differentiate exoplanets with moons and exoplanets without moons? Or, are only the combined masses of the exoplanet and its moons ...
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Official Definition of Satellite?

So I had an argument with a friend, which was about whether the Moon is a planet or a satellite. IAU 2006 Resolution B5 gives definitions on what it is to be a planet, but there is a vagueness, as I ...
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Moon's orbit around the Sun

The Earth revolves around the Sun and the Moon revolves around the Earth. Out of curiosity I started thinking about the orbit of the Moon around the Sun and expected (assumed) it to be as follows: ...
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Is there a mechanism that makes small moons more rounded than comets?

67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has a highly irregular dumbbell shape. But the sample of comet shapes observed is very small, so I wonder if irregular shape is the norm for comets and for small moons. Many ...
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Why does the Solar System have no (natural) satellites of satellites?

What are the conditions for a planetary moon to have a satellite of its own? How far do the Solar System's bodies fall from the necessary threshold?
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Wouldn't the rings of Saturn experience tidal effect?

The "Lord of the Rings" has more than 60 moons, some of which are larger than Mercury. My question is, wouldn't the ring, which is mostly comprised of rocks, experience tidal effect whenever a moon is ...
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How do moons get captured?

A moon-sized object is running loose in the Solar System, perhaps after a planetary collision. As it approaches a planet, it's presumably following an approximately hyperbolic path. If it goes on ...
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Theoretical limits for natural satellites having natural satellites

Is there an inherent instability or limit that prevents natural satellites like the moons of Jupiter from having their own natural satellites? I looked at other questions such as do moons have moons ...
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Can a gas giant have an other gas planet as satellite?

Is it possible for a gas giant (A very big one) to have an other smaller gas planet as satellite?
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Why are the natural satellites (moons) of all planets solid?

Why are the natural satelites (moons) of all planets - including the moons of the gas giants - solid or rocky, and not gaseous?
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Can you explain the pattern of Hill sphere sizes of the objects of the Solar system?

I found this image on calculations of Hill sphere for planets/dwarf planets of the Solar system. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hill_sphere_of_the_planets.png I found it interesting that ...
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Can a natural satellite exist in a geostationary orbit?

While browsing through Physics SE, I noticed a question about satellites in geostationary orbit (unrelated to the one I'm asking here), and for a moment I interpreted it as referring to natural ...
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Could a habitable satellite of a gas giant have a stable subsatellite?

I have set a science fiction story on a moon, orbiting a gas giant (which orbits its star at approximately the same orbit as the Earth around the Sun), and given this moon its own satellites. The ...
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807 views

Sum of the Masses of All Moons in the Solar System

I'm looking for the total mass of the moons in the solar system in Earth Mass this would be include the 67's moons of jupiter, the 62's of saturn, the 27's Uranus and the 14's for Neptune. it's a ...
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Movement of the satellites of the planets . . .

Is the movement of the satellites (moons) of a planet coplanar, like the planets being coplanar around the local Sun?
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Why haven't Earth and Venus got any tiny moons? Or have they?

Why haven't some meteoroids gotten caught in Earth's or Venus' orbit? AFAIK most meteors are tiny fragments from comets. Shouldn't some comet tail sometime have passed Earth orbit at velocities ...
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Will Saturn's rings become a moon?

Planets form from disks of matter orbiting around a star; some moons form from disks of matter orbiting planets. If this were going to happen around Saturn, approximately how much time would it take?