5 All 27 of Uranus’ Moons
All 27 of Uranus’ moons are intriguing, and not just because they are named for Shakespearean characters (Titania, Puck, Oberon, Portia, etc.). Perhaps because of a massive, ancient collision, Uranus turns “on its side” relative to the other planets, meaning that its equator is perpendicular to its orbit path. This means that its moons (and rings) are all circling it in the same manner, turning like a cosmic wheel rolling around the sun.
Saturn is most famous for its rings, but its moon Titan is not be overlooked. Titan is the solar system’s second largest moon; it is, in fact, bigger than the planet Mercury. It orbits Saturn at the amazing distance of 750,000 miles, and is the only moon known to have a “planet like” atmosphere. Titan may also have “continents” and even sea-like bodies of liquid on it, though all the liquid is likely to be frozen solid.
Charon is a celestial body with an identity crisis: Is it a moon? Is it a dwarf planet? Is it a co-planet? In many ways, Charon got an upgrade back in 2006 when Pluto got its downgrade. Charon had been considered pint-sized Pluto’s moon, and it sucks to be the sidekick to someone who hardly gets respect as it is. Today distant, icy little Charon, which is only about 750 miles in diameter (earth is nearly 8,000, for reference) is officially still a satellite of Pluto, but is often thought of as a dwarf planet in its own right. And interestingly, much of the ice encircling Charon is believed to be good old frozen H2O.
Phobos is a moon that likes to get up close and personal. It orbits Mars at only 3,700 miles above the surface (our moon is around 250,000 miles away at any given time), and completes three complete Martian orbits every day. Phobos is only about 14 miles across, and is shaped much like a baked potato. It’s also covered in countless craters, with one massive crater stretching across fully half its surface. Don’t get too attached to this moon: Within 50 million years, which is not long on the cosmic calendar, it will likely smash into Mars and be erased from the galactic map.
Io is one of Jupiter’s many moons; the greedy giant may have more than 30 objects in orbit around it, and has at least 16 “legitimate” moons. This particular moon happens to be the most volcanically active object in our solar system. There are more than 400 active volcanoes on Io, which is about a quarter the size of the earth. Basically, it is one constant, violent series of explosions. Not exactly a great place for another moon landing.