Jupiter now has 92 moons, surpassing Saturn for record

Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, has reclaimed its title as the planet with the most moons, surpassing Saturn. This achievement comes with the confirmation of twelve new satellites orbiting Jupiter, bringing its total moon count to a staggering 92. This recent development, published on February 9, 2023, marks a significant milestone in our understanding of the celestial bodies that orbit our solar system’s planets. The 12 newly announced moons, half of which were first spotted around Jupiter within the past two years, have been officially confirmed with orbits published by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. These moons, along with all other known Jovian satellites, are listed on Scott S. Sheppard’s website. Sheppard, from the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Earth and Planets Laboratory, led the team responsible for this discovery. These newly confirmed moons are faint and small, each less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) across. They orbit far from Jupiter, taking hundreds of days, often equivalent to one or two Earth years, to complete an orbit. This is in stark contrast to the well-known Galilean moons, discovered in 1610, which are thousands of miles wide and orbit Jupiter in less than 17 days. Unlike the Galilean moons, which are believed to have formed with Jupiter from the same material, many of Jupiter’s smaller, more distant satellites were likely captured later or may even be remnants of collisions. Identifying the lengthy orbits of such small moons is a time-consuming and challenging process, requiring extensive observations. However, over the past two decades, the number of known moons around the giant outer planets, particularly Jupiter and Saturn, has increased dramatically. This surge is largely due to deep surveys capable of finding faint objects moving against the background stars. The Ongoing Race for Moons The discovery of these moons around Jupiter is not just a triumph for the planet but also a testament to the advancements in astronomical technology and observation. With many more solar system moons likely out there waiting to be found, the race between Jupiter and Saturn for the most moons is far from over.