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Anthe: Overview
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Cassini images reveal the existence of a faint arc of material orbiting with Saturn's small moon Anthe.
Cassini images reveal the existence of a faint arc of material orbiting with Saturn's small moon Anthe.

Anthe (pronounced An-thee; adjective: Anthean) is a tiny 2-km (1-mile) diameter moon that orbits between Mimas and Enceladus at about of 197,700 km (122,800 miles) from Saturn. Anthe and two other tiny moons, Methone and Pallene, may have split from either Mimas or Enceladus, or all five moons may be the remains of a larger swarm that traveled in that area close to Saturn. Anthe circles Saturn in approximately 24 hours and 15 minutes.

Because these three tiny moons orbit at very similar distances from Saturn, they are in a dynamical relationship. Mimas strongly perturbs the 3-km (2-mile) diameter moon Methone, the 4-km (3-mile) moon Pallene and the 2-km (1-mile) diameter moon Anthe, all of which orbit between Mimas and the next major moon, Enceladus. The vastly more massive Mimas causes the Methone orbit to vary by as much as 20km (12.4 miles), has a slightly smaller effect on Pallene and has the greatest effect on Anthe.

These three moons may also be contributing particles to Saturn's E ring., As a consequence of their small size and recent discovery, astronomers have few details on characteristics of these moons such as reflectivity (called albedo), rotation (probably tidally locked on Saturn because they are so close) and composition.

Discovery:
The Cassini Imaging team discovered Anthe on 30 May 2007, although a check back revealed Anthe in Cassini images as early as June 2004. Anthe is the 60th confirmed moon of Saturn.

How Anthe Got its Name:
John Herschel suggested that the moons of Saturn be associated with the mythical brothers and sisters of Kronus. (Kronus is the equivalent of the Roman god Saturn in Greek mythology.) The International Astronomical Union now controls the official naming of astronomical bodies.

The name Anthe comes from the name in Greek mythology of one of seven Alkyonides -- daughters of the god (or Titan) Alkyoneus. Alkyoneus sprang from Gaea and the blood of Uranus. This blood was spilled when Uranus' son -- and Alkyoneus' brother -- Kronus castrated his father. Herakles (Hercules) killed Alkyoneus in the war between the gods of Mount Olympus and the Titans. Overcome by grief, the daughters threw themselves into the sea to die, but the goddess Amphitrite took pity on them and transformed them into halcyons or kingfishers.

Astronomers also refer to Anthe as Saturn XLIX and as S/2007 S4.

Just the Facts
Orbit Size (semi-major axis):  122,845 miles
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Last Updated: 12 Aug 2013