Jupiter’s moon count reaches 79, including tiny ‘oddball’
By EMILIANO RODRIGUEZ MEGA
Tuesday, July 17
NEW YORK (AP) — Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.
The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.
Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system last year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter’s backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. They saw a new group of objects moving around the giant gas planet but didn’t know whether they were moons or asteroids passing near Jupiter.
“There was no eureka moment,” said Sheppard, who led the team of astronomers. “It took a year to figure out what these objects were.”
They all turned out to be moons of Jupiter. The confirmation of 10 was announced Tuesday. Two were confirmed earlier.
The moons had not been spotted before because they are tiny. They are about one to two kilometers (miles) across, said astronomer Gareth Williams of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.
And he thinks Jupiter might have even more moons just as small waiting to be found.
“We just haven’t observed them enough,” said Williams, who helped confirm the moons’ orbits.
The team is calling one of the new moons an ‘oddball’ because of its unusual orbit. Sheppard’s girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter.
Valetudo is in Jupiter’s distant, outer swarm of moons that circles in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. Yet it’s orbiting in the same direction as the planet, against the swarm’s traffic.
“This moon is going down the highway the wrong way,” Sheppard said.
Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. Some of that debris was captured as moons.
“What astonishes me about these moons is that they’re the remnants of what the planet formed from,” he said.
Telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona were used for the latest discovery and confirmation.
Galileo detected Jupiter’s four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto in 1610. The latest count of 79 known planets includes eight that have not been seen for several years. Saturn is next with 61, followed by Uranus with 27 and Neptune with 14. Mars has two, Earth has one and Mercury and Venus have none.
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The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Elon Musk versus the Media
After an investigation into labor conditions at Tesla, the eccentric billionaire announced a new website to smear reporters.
By Justin Anderson | Jul 18, 2018
Elon Musk, the eccentric South African billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX, is anything but subtle when it comes to marketing his own personal brand of nerd-cool CEO. Musk’s latest wild business ideas include consumer-ready flamethrowers and underground mass transit tunnels.
These new projects might be a distraction from troubles at Tesla, which is currently the most-shorted stock on the market, and has received a flurry of negative media coverage over production woes and fatal crashes of its autonomous car prototypes. Some investors have even called for Musk to step down.
Dismissing the criticism, Musk called the press “misleading“ this spring.
A few weeks later, Musk announced his newest enterprise: a website “where the public can rate the core truth of any article and track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor, and publication.” He even plans on calling it Pravda (or “Pravduh.com“) after the former Soviet newspaper.
There’s concern that Pravda — superficially similar to Snopes and other fact checkers — could be used to undermine journalists who critically cover Musk’s business interests.
A major spark for Pravda was a report on Tesla’s labor practices by Reveal, an outlet of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, which reported that Tesla had inadequate safety standards and was underreporting injuries.
In response, Tesla released an official statement calling Reveal an “extremist organization” that’s “working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign.” Tesla workers have fought with Musk in recent years over issues such as excessive mandatory overtime, low pay, and confidentiality requirements that deter contact with journalists.
Ironically, Musk’s larger-than-life persona and seemingly revolutionary business ventures have brought him legions of journalist cheerleaders over the years. He’s often held up as a Herculean ubermensch who will save the Earth from climate change and propel humanity to Mars.
Yet despite all his huffing about (finally) receiving a bit of critical coverage, Musk does have some valid points about the relationship between media and advertising.
Just prior to announcing Pravda, Musk tweeted that journalists are “under constant pressure to get max clicks and earn advertising dollars or get fired. Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies and gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.”
This is a fair assessment. Large media properties are owned by just a handful of corporations, whose advertisers and business interests hamper them from taking critical stances on important issues, including climate change. These outlets frequently tiptoe between coverage that’s just incisive enough to be provocative, but sanitized enough to not upset their corporate partners.
Yet in attacking Reveal, Musk was opening fire on a nonprofit organization not beholden to advertisers. Reveal and other investigative outlets fill important and overlooked gaps in corporate media coverage, which typically overlooks the concerns of workers.
If the goal of journalism is to act as a check on power, then Musk’s attacks on both labor and media show that his concerns about the press are less noble than they seem.
By criticizing media only when his company’s bottom line — and his personal brand — are threatened, Musk is displaying the same type of hypocrisy he decries. Pravda could easily be used as a cudgel against journalists or outlets like Reveal who might be critical of Musk or his companies.
Moving humanity away from fossil fuels to halt the impact of global climate change is indeed a noble goal, and Musk’s personal brand helps elevate the viability of electric vehicles. But Musk’s massive fortune, anti-labor views, and cult of personality make him a dubious vehicle for any media reform project. The public should remain wary of his intentions.
Justin Anderson is a contributor to FAIR.org, where an earlier version of this piece appeared. Distributed by OtherWords.org.