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Thebe: Overview
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Illustration of Jupiter, moons and rings.
Small satellites such as Thebe orbit closer to Jupiter than the four largest Galilean satellites.
Thebe is one of the four known small moons that orbit closer to Jupiter than the four vastly larger Galilean moons. These eight are the only known "regular" Jovian satellites, which means that they orbit Jupiter in the same direction as the planet's rotation (prograde orbits), and that their orbits are almost circular and in the same plane as Jupiter's equator.

Thebe is the planet's seventh largest moon, with a mean radius of about 49 km. At a distance of about 222 thousand km from Jupiter, Thebe whips once around the planet in a little over 16 hours.

Discovery:
Thebe was discovered in 1980 by the Voyager science team from images taken by Voyager 1.

How Thebe Got its Name:
The satellite originally called S/1979 J2 was ultimately named "Thebe," a name associated with Jupiter -- or his Greek equivalent, Zeus -- in a variety of ways in different myths. In one, Thebe was a nymph who was a love of Zeus. In another, she was an Egyptian king's daughter and a love of Jupiter.

Along with its sister inner moon, Metis, Thebe was exempted from the International Astronomical Union's requirement that prograde satellites (not counting the Galilean moons) receive names ending in "a."

Just the Facts
Orbit Size (semi-major axis):  221,900 km
Mean Radius:  49.3 km
Volume:  501,914 km3
Mass:  1,498,668,433,097,190,000 kg
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Last Updated: 25 Apr 2012