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Kiviuq: Overview
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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.

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
25 Jul 2003: 
26 Oct 2000: 
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Last Updated: 11 Apr 2011