Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, now boasts a total of 92 moons with the recent discovery of 12 new lunar worlds. Astronomer Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington made the groundbreaking observations, which were published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC).
Juno Mission to Jupiter Faces Camera Anomaly
These new moons are small and located far out with orbits stretching over 340 days, while nine of the 12 moons are among the 71 outermost Jovian moons with orbits lasting over 550 days. Three of the newly discovered moons are among 13 others that orbit in a prograde direction, lying between the large, close-in Galilean moons and the far-out retrograde moons.
The discovery of these new moons comes just a year before NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which aims to conduct the first dedicated and detailed study of an ocean world beyond Earth. The objective of the expedition is to explore Europa and determine if it has conditions favorable for life. The spacecraft will perform 45 flybys at varying altitudes and answer specific questions about Europa’s ocean, ice shell, composition, and geology.
The Jovian system is now a mini solar system in itself, with the recent discovery of these new moons adding to its already impressive list. The sky is the limit for what we may discover in our solar system, and the exploration of Jupiter’s moons is sure to uncover new and exciting information about the universe.