Tarqeq was discovered on Jan. 16, 2007, by Scott S. Sheppard, David C. Jewitt and Jan T. Kleyna at the Subaru 8.2-m reflector at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.


Tarqeq has a mean radius of 1.9 miles (3 kilometers), assuming an albedo (a measure of how reflective the surface is) of 0.06. At a mean distance of 11.1 million miles (17.9 million kilometers) from Saturn, the moon takes about 887 Earth days to complete one orbit.

Tarqeq is one of five known members of the Inuit group of moons, which orbit Saturn at a mean distance of 7 to 11 million miles (11 to 18 million kilometers), at inclinations between 40 degrees and 50 degrees from the plane of Saturn's equator, and with eccentricities of 0.15 to 0.48. (A moon'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" moons. 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 moons 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 Kiviuq, Paaliaq, Siarnaq, and Ijiraq.

How Tarqeq Got Its Name

Originally called S/2007 S1, Tarqeq was named for the Inuit spirit of Earth's Moon. This spirit is said to be a mighty hunter who watches over human behavior. In the mythology of the indigenous people of northern Alaska, he controls the animals.

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