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12 More Moons Found in Saturn's Orbit

July 16, 2001

An international team of astronomers has discovered 12 more moons orbiting Saturn, bringing the ringed planet's tally of natural satellites to 30, the most in the solar system. The team reported in the July 12 edition of Nature that the 12 satellites, ranging from 3 to 15 miles in diameter, occur in clusters, suggesting that they are the remains of three or four larger moons that suffered disastrous collisions.

The astronomers, led by Brett Gladman of the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in Nice, France, used an array of telescopes to search the sky surrounding Saturn, systematically scanning patches of space that were roughly the size of Earth's moon. Saturn orbits the sun about 800 million miles from Earth.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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