Scientists are naming Saturn’s moonlets after kittens

There are a bunch of kittens hiding in the rings of Saturn, but they are not the fluffy kinds we tend to share our homes with.

Scientists are naming moonlets, small clumps of rock and dust around Saturn, after standard cat names.

The moonlets, which range in size from about 72ft (22m) to 2.3 miles (3.7km), were caught on camera by Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft.

They are present in the F ring of Saturn and are constantly colliding, breaking apart and fusing together. And for some reason, this reminded scientists of the internet’s favourite pet.

Cassini mission
Scientists are analysing the moonlets captured on camera by the Cassini spacecraft (Nasa)

“These are like cats, because they have nine lives,” Larry Esposito, a Cassini scientist who helped find and name the kittens, told Space.com.

Esposito is also credited with discovering the ring itself in 1979.

And now, it looks like he is having a bit of fun with Fluffy, Garfield, Socks and Whiskers, who are some of the 60-odd kittens in the F ring.

“I think this says something about the social nature and humour of the science team,” Esposito added.

Kittens
Because who doesn’t want to name space rocks after kittens? (Matt Alexander/PA)

Because of their constant collisions and transformations, these kittens are transient observations – and scientists doubt they will be able to identify them again, although that hasn’t stopped them from naming and categorising them.

As you’ve probably guessed, the Cassini team has many cat lovers, but there were a group of dog lovers who reportedly *resisted* these awesome cat names and failed.

Sorry, dog people.

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