AUG 16, 2017 9:40 AM PDT

Why We Need Stricter Standards for What We Call "Moons"

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


People typically think of a 'moon' as a natural secondary object orbiting a planet that orbits a host star. For example, Earth orbits the Sun, but the Moon orbits the Earth. Likewise, Mars orbits the Sun, and two moons, Deimos and Phobos, orbit Mars.

As we search the outer reaches of our solar system, we're finding higher concentrations of moons orbiting other planets. Jupiter, for example, has 67 confirmed moons, while Saturn has 62.

These figures are pushing the limits, and there's still no telling how much more are hiding in the dark. Moreover, many moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn barely measure 1 kilometer across.

With seemingly no lower limit in the definition of what we call a "moon," almost any small space rock orbiting a planet could be considered one. This gray area has experts thinking: perhaps we need a more detailed way of defining what a moon is.

There's no telling how space experts might categorize moons in the future, but a stricter definition could help us better differentiate between the plethora of objects residing in our solar system.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 19, 2020
Expedition 62 Returns Home From the International Space Station
After spending several months onboard the International Space Station conducting science experiments and risky spacewalk ...
APR 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 22, 2020
Want to Peek at Atoms? There's a Microscope for That
Optical microscopes can help us see the microscopic world, but to use them to examine individual atoms is like measuring ...
MAY 03, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 03, 2020
How the Hubble Space Telescope Transformed Astronomy
The Hubble Space Telescope has officially spent three decades in outer space, making it one of the most renowned space o ...
MAY 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 24, 2020
Here's Why SpaceX is Using Heavy Stainless Steel to Make Starship
SpaceX is perhaps best known for its reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the same variety that will be lofting astronauts into out ...
MAY 25, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 25, 2020
Cuttlefish Are Amazing, and Here's Why
Many people have heard of the cuttlefish but haven’t actually seen one in person – and we’re just goin ...
MAY 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 27, 2020
Unfavorable Weather Delays SpaceX's Historic Crewed American Launch
After officially receiving the green light from NASA to move forward with the first crewed space launch from American so ...
Loading Comments...