Gazing up at the night sky, it’s easy to feel a sense of awe and wonder. But the mysteries of the universe are slowly being revealed to us, one discovery at a time. The latest revelation is the discovery of 12 new moons around Jupiter, bringing the total count of the gas giant’s moons to a record-breaking 92. That’s more than any other planet in our solar system.
The new moons were discovered by astronomers using telescopes in Hawaii and Chile in 2021 and 2022, and their orbits were confirmed with follow-up observations. The moons range in size from 0.6 miles to 2 miles (1 kilometer to 3 kilometers).
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.
It is believed that the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are fragments of once bigger moons that collided with one another or with comets or asteroids. While Jupiter and Saturn are loaded with small moons, 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. But only half of them are big enough — at least 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) or so — to warrant a name.
The universe is a fascinating place, and every day it seems like we’re unlocking more of its secrets. Who knows what else we’ll uncover in the future?