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Thebe (moon) facts for kids

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Image of Thebe taken by the Galileo spacecraft on January 4 2000.
Discovered by Stephen P. Synnott / Voyager 1
Discovery date March 5, 1979
Orbital characteristics
Periapsis 218,000 km
Apoapsis 226,000 km
Mean orbit radius
221889.0 ± 0.6 km (3.11 RJ)
Eccentricity 0.0175 ± 0.0004
0.674536 ± 0.000001 d (16 h 11.3 min)
23.923 km/s
Inclination 1.076 ±0.003° (to Jupiter's equator)
Satellite of Jupiter
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 116×98×84 km
Mean radius
49.3 ± 2.0 km
Volume ~500,000 km³
Mass 4.3×1017 kg
Mean density
0.86 g/cm³ (assumed)
~0.020 m/s² (0.004 g)
~0.040 km/s
Albedo 0.047 ± 0.003
Temperature ~124 K

Thebe or Jupiter XIV, is the fourth of Jupiter's known moons (by distance from the planet). It was found by Stephen P. Synnott in images from the Voyager 1 space probe taken on March 5, 1979 and was given the designation S/1979 J 2. Later, it was found on images dating back to February 27, 1979. In 1983 it was officially named after the mythological nymph Thebe who was the daughter of the river god Asopus and a lover of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of Jupiter).


Thebe is the farthest of the inner Jovian moons. It orbits Jupiter at a distance of ~222,000 km (3.11 Jupiter radii). The orbit of Thebe has an orbital eccentricity of ~0.018 and an inclination of ~1.08° relative to the equator of Jupiter. These values are unusually high for a closer moon and can be explained by the past influence of the closest Galilean satellite Io; in the past, several mean motion resonances with Io would have passed through Thebe's orbit as Io gradually moved away from Jupiter, and these excited Thebe's orbit.

Physical characteristics

Thebe is not a sphere, with the closest ellipsoidal approximation being 116x98x84 km. Its bulk density and mass are not known but assuming that it mean density is like that of Amalthea (~0.86 g/cm³) its mass can be estimated at ~4.3×1017 kg.

The surface of Thebe is dark and appears to be reddish in color.


Thebe was found in Voyager 1 images by Steve Synnott, a member of the Voyager navigation team. However, before the Galileo spacecraft arrived at Jupiter, little was known about it. Galileo imaged almost all of the surface of Thebe and put constraints on its composition.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Tebe (satélite) para niños

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