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Solar System Exploration
Prospero: Overview
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At about 50 km in diameter, Prospero is a small, dark, irregular moon that orbits Uranus in the opposite direction from the regular satellites and the rotation of the planet, itself (known as a retrograde orbit). Its orbital characteristics are similar to those of Sycorax and Setebos, suggesting a common origin. But its gray color differs from the light red color of Sycorax, implying a different origin.

Prospero was discovered 18 July 1999 by Matthew J. Holman, John J. Kavelaars, Brett J. Gladman, Jean-Marc Petit, and Hans Scholl using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatory on the island of Hawaii. They discovered Setebos and Stephano at the same time.

How Prospero Got its Name:
Originally called S/1999 U3, Prospero was named for a sorcerer in William Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest." Prospero, rightfully Duke of Milan, has his dukedom usurped by his brother Antonio with the help of Alonso, King of Naples. He is forced to flee with his daughter Miranda to an island in the Mediterranean, where he perfects his magical powers, hoping to use them to regain his dukedom. After 12 years on the island, he causes Alonso and Antonio to shipwreck on the island, eventually reconciles with them, and is restored to his dukedom.

Moons of Uranus are named for characters in Shakespeare's plays and from Alexander Pope's "Rape of the Lock."

Just the Facts
Orbit Size (semi-major axis):  16,276,800 km
Mean Radius:  25.0 (assuming an albedo of 0.07) km
Volume:  65,450 km3
Mass:  98,912,116,584,414,800 kg
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Last Updated: 7 Mar 2011