Jupiter’s Less Popular Moons


Io, Europa, Ganymede and Castillo get a lot of love, but the 63 other members of Jupiter’s posse are often overlooked.

This NASA webpage provides in-depth information about each of Jupiter’s 67 moons. 50 of them are official moons and have names to reflect that status. However, the other 17 are mere “Provisional Moons,” which are named by a series of letters and numbers. These include objects such as S/2003 J4 and S/2011 J2.

I want to highlight the attributes of these two randomly selected Provisional Moons, to illustrate what some of these objects are like and to give them a bit of the spotlight that they are so often deprived.

S/2003 J4 bears this name because it was Jupiter’s fourth (J4) satellite (S) discovered in 2003 (2003). Fun facts about S/2003 J4 include that it is thought to be a fragment from an ancient object that was much larger and it orbits Jupiter on a distinct incline every 755 Earth days.

S/2011 J2 was the most recently discovered of the bunch, Jupiter’s second (J2) satellite (S) discovered in 2011 (2011). We don’t know very much about this satellite, except that it orbits Jupiter in the direction opposite the planet’s rotation.

I hope that you take the time to get to know not only these moons, but also the many others that orbit Earth’s Jovian peers.


3 thoughts on “Jupiter’s Less Popular Moons

  1. This is super interesting and really puts perspective on how small our Earth really is. So I often I look and at the moon and think, “Wow. What a big world we live in.” And then I read about how many moons Jupiter has, and that there are so many they don’t even bother to name some, and I am forced to think, “Wow. What an ENORMOUS world we live in.” And then, I start to think about how we are just one solar system in one galaxy among an unspeakable amount of worlds, and it all becomes overwhelming. Thanks for writing this!


  2. Grader here!
    Very neat website you found. It’s crazy to think about how many moons Jupiter has. We usually only talk about the Galilean moons. My favorite is Europa, what’s yours?


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