West News Wire: The number of moons orbiting Jupiter has increased by 12, bringing the total to a record-breaking 92.

No other planet in our solar system has more than that. With 83 known moons, Saturn, the former leader, comes in a close second.

The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center has added the Jupiter moons to its roster, according to team member Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution.

In 2021 and 2022, they were found with the aid of telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and subsequent studies confirmed their orbits.

Sheppard estimates that the size of these most recent moons is between 0.6 and 2 miles (1 and 3 kilometers).

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 wrote 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.

Jupiter and Saturn are loaded with small moons, believed to be fragments of once bigger moons that collided with one another or with comets or asteroids, Sheppard said. The same goes for Uranus and Neptune, but they’re so distant that it makes moon-spotting even harder.

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For the record, Uranus has 27 confirmed moons, Neptune 14, Mars two and Earth one. Venus and Mercury come up empty.

Jupiter’s newly discovered moons have yet to be named. Sheppard said only half of them are big enough at least 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) or so to warrant a name.


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