This Week in Space! January 6, 1905: Charles Perrine Discovers a New Moon of Jupiter
This week in 1905, Charles Dillon Perrine discovered a new moon of Jupiter, later named Elara (from Greek mythology, the mother of the giant Tityus and fathered by Zeus).
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Elara, the gas giant’s 12th moon, has a diameter of only 50 miles and orbits Jupiter at a distance of 7.25 million miles.
Born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1867, Perrine worked at the Lick Observatory in California from 1893 to 1909. He is also credited with the discovery of 13 comets.
Elara did not get its present name until 1975; before then, it was simply known as Jupiter VII. In February 2007, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured several images of Elara on its fly-by on its way to Pluto. Elara is small enough to be considered a chunk of a D-class asteroid that broke apart and was captured by Jupiter’s gravity. The other chunks of this asteroid became the moons Himalia, Leda, and Lysithea.
These four similar moons are named the Himalia group.