With the discovery of 12 new moons, Jupiter now has more moons than any other planet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Astronomers have spotted 12 new moons around Jupiter, bringing the total to a record 92.

That’s more than any other planet in our solar system. Saturn, the former leader, is close behind with 83 confirmed moons.

Jupiter’s moons were recently added to a list maintained by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, said Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution, who was on the team.

They were spotted with telescopes in Hawaii and Chile in 2021 and 2022, and their orbits were confirmed by follow-up observations.

These most recent moons range in size from 0.6 to 2 miles (1 kilometer to 3 kilometers), according to Sheppard.

“Hopefully in the near future we can photograph one of these outer moons up close to better determine their origin,” he said in an email Friday.

In April, the European Space Agency will send a spacecraft to Jupiter to study the planet and some of its largest icy moons. And next year, NASA will launch the Europa Clipper to explore Jupiter’s eponymous moon, which may harbor an ocean beneath its frozen crust.

In April, the European Space Agency will send a spacecraft to Jupiter to study the planet and some of its largest icy moons. And next year, NASA will launch the Europa Clipper to explore Jupiter’s eponymous moon, which may harbor an ocean beneath its frozen crust.

Sheppard – who discovered a multitude of moons around Saturn a few years ago and has been involved in 70 lunar discoveries around Jupiter to date – expects to continue adding to the lunar balance of the two gas giants.

Jupiter and Saturn are full of small moons thought to be fragments of once-larger moons that collided with each other or with comets or asteroids, Sheppard said. The same goes for Uranus and Neptune, but they are so far apart that it makes lunar observation even more difficult.

For the record, Uranus has 27 confirmed moons, Neptune 14, Mars two, and Earth one. Venus and Mercury get nothing.

The newly discovered moons of Jupiter do not yet have names. Sheppard said only half of them are large enough – at least a mile or so – to warrant a name.

Source: www.nbcnews.com

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