CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP): Astronomers have discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter, putting the total count at a record-breaking 92. That’s more than any other planet in our solar system. Saturn, the one-time leader, comes in a close second with 83 confirmed moons.
The Jupiter moons were added recently to a list kept by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, said Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution, who was part of the team. They were discovered using telescopes in Hawaii and Chile in 2021 and 2022, and their orbits were confirmed with follow-up observations. These newest moons range in size from 0.6 miles to 2 miles (1 kilometer to 3 kilometers), according to Sheppard.
“I hope we can image one of these outer moons close-up in the near future to better determine their origins,” he said in an email. In April, the European Space Agency is sending a spacecraft to Jupiter to study the planet and some of its biggest, icy moons.
And next year, NASA will launch the Europa Clipper to explore Jupiter’s moon of the same name, which could harbor an ocean beneath its frozen crust. Sheppard — who discovered a slew of moons around Saturn a few years ago and has taken part in 70 moon discoveries so far around Jupiter — expects to keep adding to the lunar tally of both gas giants.