National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Planets
Kiviuq: Overview
   Back to Saturn   Overview   Facts & Figures   News 
No Image Available Tag
Contact us if you have an image of this moon.

Kiviuq is one of five known members of the Inuit group of moons, which orbit Saturn at a mean distance of 11 to 18 million km, at inclinations between 40 and 50 degrees from the plane of Saturn's equator, and with eccentricities of 0.15 to 0.48. (A satellite's eccentricity is a number between 0 and 1 which describes the shape of the orbit. The closer to 0, the more circular it is; the closer to 1, the more elongated.)

The Inuit moons all have prograde orbits (they travel around Saturn in the same direction as the planet's rotation), but their deviations from circular orbits and from the plane of Saturn's equator classify them as "irregular" satellites. Like Saturn's other irregular moons, they are thought to be objects that were captured by Saturn's gravity, rather than having accreted from the dusty disk that surrounded the newly formed planet, as the regular satellites are thought to have done.

The similarities among the Inuit group's orbits suggest a common origin -- they may be fragments of a single object that shattered in a collision. The other members of this group are Ijiraq, Paaliaq, Siarnaq, and Tarqeq.

Observations by Tommy Grav and James Bauer using telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2006 (before the discovery of Tarqeq) found that Kiviuq, Siarnaq and Paaliaq all are light red with similar infrared features, further supporting the idea of a common origin.

Kiviuq has a mean radius of about 8 km, assuming an albedo of 0.06. At a mean distance of 11.3 million km from Saturn, the satellite takes about 449 Earth days to complete one orbit.

Discovery:
Kiviuq was discovered on 7 August 2000 by Brett J. Gladman, John J. Kavelaars, Jean-Marc Petit, Hans Scholl, Matthew J. Holman, Brian G. Marsden, Phillip D. Nicholson, and Joseph A. Burns at the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile. They discovered Ymir and Paaliaq at the same time.

How Kiviuq Got its Name:
Originally called S/2000 S5, Kiviuq was named for the wandering hero of epic stories told by the Inuit people. The name was suggested by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, who wrote the children's books from which two other names were taken for Saturnian moons: Ijiraq and Paaliaq. He also suggested the legendary Inuit name Siarnaq, which was used for yet another of Saturn's moons.

Just the Facts
Orbit Size (semi-major axis):  11,311,100 km
Mean Radius:  8 (assuming an albedo of 0.06) km
Volume:  2,145 km3
Mass:  3,297,070,552,813,820 kg
Resources
Headlines
25 Jul 2003: 
26 Oct 2000: 
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: 11 Apr 2011