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
DEC 10, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 10, 2019
NOAA Unveils Florida Keys Reef Restoration Program
Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced "Mission: Iconic Reefs"—a new strategy to restore a...
DEC 17, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2019
Watch Seals Band Together to Scare a Great White Shark Away
Great white sharks are rather renowned for being massive and merciless predators of the ocean, and among their favorite prey are fur seals, which are rich...
DEC 28, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 28, 2019
Consider Skipping The Post-Workout Ice Bath
In an effort to get heart-healthy, many people have experienced the painful after-effects of an intense workout. Weather cardiovascular or strength trainin...
JAN 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 02, 2020
Mushroom Chemistry: Pick Your Poison, or Not
Consuming wild mushrooms is largely frowned upon because it can lead to food poisoning. Its consequence ranges from vomiting and diarrhea to death within d...
JAN 15, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 15, 2020
Glacial Floods: The Lesser-Known Climate Change-Related Disaster
Natural phenomena such as wildfires and hurricanes are intensifying due to climate change, but have you heard of glacial floods? This lesser-known threat,...
FEB 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 16, 2020
Drone Footage Shows a Hungry Blue Whale Lunging At Krill
Blue whales are the largest living mammals on Earth, capable of growing as long as three full-length school busses. As you might come to expect, large anim...
Loading Comments...