The Twelve Moons of Jupiter

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Last week there was a new rumble in the jungle discovery in planetary science. A dirty (literally) dozen new moons were officially authenticated to orbit Jupiter. This gives Jupiter back the lead in satellites at 79 bodies to Saturn’s 69 moons. These new lunar discoveries had nothing to do with the on-going NASA Juno mission that is also in progress around the big planet.

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The project team that made the new moons discovery is technically searching for Planet X out in and beyond the Ort Cloud. They recognized they would have an opportunity to find new Jovian moons because of their next project search area. Waste not want not.

“Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant Solar System objects, so we were serendipitously able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System,”
says team leader Scott S. Sheppard.

Here’s the link to the official news release from the Carnegie Science website.

The Twelve Moons of Jupiter

I believe there are probably already precocious 10-year olds who’ve memorized all the names of Jupiter’s moons including the new ones. Jeopardy is sure to follow with a new game category real soon now.

What struck me as funny and worth noting about the discovery was that people were all fascinated by the potential collision course of the smallest new moon. The name Valetudo has been proposed for it, after the Roman god Jupiter’s great-granddaughter, the goddess of health and hygiene.

“This is an unstable situation. Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust,”
says Sheppard.

So Scott, when is the next potential collision?
In like - maybe a billion years.

The scale of the Jovian system gets seriously confused by the press release graphics.

The scientists do seem to have a wry sense of humor. They probably want to complain about their current Obamacare options without making the whine all that obvious to the IYI bureaucrats overseeing their grant money.

Funny. This press release dropped off the major news media radar like a rock. It has been replaced by the discovery of a new hot-spot and/or potential volcano on Jupiter’s moon Io. Huh? We already know there are 400 volcanoes on Io? She’s a hot activist under the squeeze who spews sulfurous compounds, if you catch my drift.

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