Helene (/ˈhɛləni/ HEL-ə-nee;[a] Greek: Ἑλένη) is a moon of Saturn. It was discovered by Pierre Laques and Jean Lecacheux in 1980 from ground-based observations at Pic du Midi Observatory,[1] and was designated S/1980 S 6.[5] In 1988 it was officially named after Helen of Troy, who was the granddaughter of Cronus (Saturn) in Greek mythology.[6] Helene is also designated Saturn XII (12), which it was given in 1982, and Dione B,[b] because it is co-orbital with Dione and located in its leading Lagrangian point (L4). It is one of four known trojan moons.

Leading hemisphere of Helene - 20110618.jpg
High-resolution view of leading hemisphere, showing gullies and apparent dust (regolith) flows (Cassini, June 2011)
Discovery [1]
Discovered byP. Laques
J. Lecacheux
Discovery sitePic du Midi Observatory
Discovery dateMarch 1, 1980
  • Helene
  • Dione B
  • Saturn XII (12)
  • S/1980 S 6
Orbital characteristics
377396 km
2.736915 d[2]
Inclination0.199° (to Saturn's equator)
Satellite of
Physical characteristics
Dimensions43.4 × 38.2 × 26 km [3]
Mean radius
17.6±0.4 km[3]
Albedo1.67±0.20 (geometric) [4]


Helene was initially observed from Earth in 1980,[5] and Voyager flybys of Saturn in the early 1980s allowed much closer views. The Cassini–Huygens mission, which went into orbit around Saturn in 2004, provided still better views, and allowed more in-depth analysis of Helene, including views of the surface under different lighting conditions. Some of the closest images of Helene to date are from the Cassini spacecraft's 1800 km flyby on March 3, 2010, and another very successful imaging sequence occurred in June 2011. There have been many other approaches over the course of the Cassini mission.

Selected observationsEdit

Mostly raw greyscale images with near infrared or ultraviolet channels.

Cassini image of Helene against the backdrop of Saturn's clouds (March 3, 2010)
Flow-like features on Helene's leading hemisphere (Cassini, January 2011)
Helene's Saturn-facing side, lit by saturnshine (Cassini, March 2010)
Close-up of Helene with Saturn in the background (Cassini, March 2010)
Cassini image from March 3, 2010
Cassini orbiter image from November 2008
Cassini image taken July 2007
Voyager 2 image (August 1981)



  1. ^ /ˈhɛləni/ HEL-ə-nee is the regular pronunciation, as expected from the Greek etymology, but /həˈlni/ hə-LEE-nee and /həˈln/ hə-LEEN are also heard. The Modern Greek pronunciation is el-AY-nee.[needs Modern Greek IPA]
  2. ^ Transactions of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. XVIIIA, 1982 (mentioned in IAUC 3872: Satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, September 30, 1983)



  • Lecacheux, Jean. (July 1980). "A new satellite of Saturn: Dione B". Icarus. 43 (1): 111–115. Bibcode:1980Icar...43..111L. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(80)90093-7.
  • Marsden, Brian G. (July 31, 1980). "Satellites of Saturn" (discovery). IAU Circular. 3496. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
  • Marsden, Brian G. (September 30, 1983). "Satellites of Jupiter and Saturn". IAU Circular. 3872. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
  • Marsden, Brian G. (June 8, 1988). "Satellites of Saturn and Uranus" (naming). IAU Circular. 4609. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
  • Thomas, P. C. (July 2010). "Sizes, shapes, and derived properties of the saturnian satellites after the Cassini nominal mission" (PDF). Icarus. 208 (1): 395–401. Bibcode:2010Icar..208..395T. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.01.025.
  • Verbiscer, A.; French, R.; Showalter, M.; Helfenstein, P. (9 February 2007). "Enceladus: Cosmic Graffiti Artist Caught in the Act". Science. 315 (5813): 815. Bibcode:2007Sci...315..815V. doi:10.1126/science.1134681. PMID 17289992. (supporting online material, table S1)

External linksEdit