National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
News & Events
Facebook Twitter YouTube Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr iTunes
Follow Us
Many Moons

Get To Know Your Neighbors

9 August 2011
Image showing space snapshots that says Great Shots Blog, iconic images from our solar system.
The Voyagers are going where no spacecraft and certainly no man has gone before. Galileo went all the way to Jupiter (with many encounters along the way). And Cassini continues to send back data. What do these three missions have in common? Moons.

It was the four Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto that helped to alter the world's view of our place in the solar system -- of course not without much debate and controversy. Since then we have become acquainted with quite a few moons through the missions that have gone the distance and imaged these curious and varied objects.

Moons do come in a variety of intriguing shapes and sizes which cause us to wonder and marvel at our solar system. Many are round, or ball-like, but many more are not. Take a tour of the images below and get to know some of the various types of moons in your "neighborhood." (12 images total)

Many Moons
Many Moons: How many moons can you identify in the artist's concept above?

Sea Sponge or Odd Moon? This stunning false-color view of Saturn's moon Hyperion by Cassini reveals crisp details across the strange, tumbling moon's surface.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Triton's Cantaloupe Surface: This color photo of Neptune's large satellite Triton was made from pictures taken through the green, violet and ultraviolet filters by Voyager 2.

Triton is one of the coolest objects in our solar system. It is so cold that most of Triton's nitrogen is condensed as frost, giving its surface an icy sheen that reflects 70 percent of the sunlight that hits it.

Image Credit: NASA

Veins?: False color has been used here to enhance the visibility of certain features in this composite of three images of the Minos Linea region on Jupiter's moon Europa taken by the solid state imaging camera on NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

Triple bands, lineae and mottled terrains appear in brown and reddish hues, indicating the presence of contaminants in the ice. The icy plains, shown here in bluish hues, subdivide into units with different albedos at infrared wavelengths probably because of differences in the grain size of the ice.

Image Credit: NASA

Enceladus Jets
Jet Blue: Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

The scientists discovered that eight source locations are on the prominent tiger stripe fractures, or sulci, in the moon's south-polar region. These icy plumes also supply the particles for Saturn's E ring.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Volcanoes: Io (which is slightly larger than the Earth's moon) is the most volcanically active body in the solar system.

In this enhanced color composite by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, deposits of sulfur dioxide frost appear in white and grey hues while yellowish and brownish hues are probably due to other sulfurous materials. Bright red materials and "black" spots with low brightness mark areas of recent volcanic activity and are usually associated with high temperatures and surface changes.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

3D Prometheus: Saturn's potato-shaped moon Prometheus is rendered in three dimensions in this close-up from Cassini. Take a look through some red-blue glasses. (Don't have any? Click here for instructions to make your own.)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Gigantic Ganymede: Jupiter's largest moon is revealed in this natural color mosaic of images obtained by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft.

The surface displays numerous impact craters -- many with bright rays. The bright swaths across the surface contain grooves and ridges that may be caused by faulting.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk

(NOTE: This processed image is copyrighted. Contact Ted Stryk for usage inquiries.)

"Death Star" Mimas: In this view, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, Herschel Crater dominates Mimas and makes the moon look like the Death Star in the movie "Star Wars."

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Atlas and Pan
UFO: Atlas shows its flying saucer shape in this composite of images taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The saucer shape seen here is caused by equatorial ridges. This feature is pretty unique -- only one other moon of Saturn displays this feature: Pan.


Cratered Callisto: Bright scars on a darker surface testify to a long history of impacts on Jupiter's moon Callisto in this image of from NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

Callisto is the most heavily cratered object in the solar system. It is thought to be a long dead world, with hardly any geologic activity on its surface. With a surface age of about 4 billion years, Callisto has the oldest landscape in the solar system.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR

Purple Haze: Encircled in purple stratospheric haze, Titan appears as a softly glowing sphere in this colorized image taken one day after Cassini's first flyby of the moon.

This image shows two thin haze layers. The outer haze layer is detached and appears to float high in the atmosphere. Because of its thinness, the high haze layer is best seen at the moon's limb.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

More Information:

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 16 Sep 2011