MadSci Network: Astronomy

Subject: How do Saturn's moons Janus and Epimethius change places?

Date: Tue Sep 26 10:30:39 2000
Posted by No name entered.
Grade level: undergrad School: No school entered.
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Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 969978639.As

I read that Janus and Epimethius are in nearly identical orbits but the 
one that is 50 km closer to Saturn catches up to and changes places with 
the one that is 50 km farther from Saturn.  Although the diameters of the 
moons indicate that a collision should take place, they get past each 
other and have not yet hit each other.  Such a collision would obviously 
destroy both of them.  This change takes place about every 4 Earth years.  
Do you know how the orbits change?  Just how does the outer moon become 
the inner one and the inner one become the outer?  There were no details 
on the web.  Thanks.

Re: How do Saturn's moons Janus and Epimethius change places?

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