National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Planets
Atlas: Overview
   Back to Saturn   Overview   Gallery   Facts & Figures   News 
Black and white image showing Atlas' saucer shape.
From left to right: a view of Atlas' trailing hemisphere, with north up, at a spatial scale of about 1 km (0.6 mile) per pixel; Atlas seen at about 250 m (820 feet) per pixel from mid-southern latitudes, with the sub-Saturn hemisphere at the top and leading hemisphere to the left.

Atlas orbits around the outer edge of Saturn's A Ring and acts as a shepherding satellite, constraining the extent of the outer edge of this ring.

Like Pan, Atlas has a distinctive flying saucer shape created by a prominent equatorial ridge not seen on the other small moons of Saturn. Cassini images revealed in 2004 that a faint ring of material coincides with the orbit of Atlas.

The small, pointy moon is about 32 km (20 miles) across.

Discovery:
Atlas was discovered in 1980 by R. Terrile and the Voyager 1 team.

How Atlas Got its Name:
Moons of Saturn were originally named for Greco-Roman Titans and descendants of the Titans. But as many new moons were discovered scientists began selecting names from more mythologies, including Gallic, Inuit and Norse stories.

Originally designated S/1980 S28, this moon is named after Atlas (AT-less), a Titan, and a son of Iapetus. Atlas was ordered by Zeus to uphold the vault of the sky after the defeat of the Titans. Atlas was so strong that he supported the weight of the Universe on his shoulders.

Just the Facts
Orbit Size (semi-major axis):  85,544 miles
Resources
Headlines
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
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 12 Aug 2013