Facts About Planet Jupiter - The Largest Planet

Jupiter - Facts about jupiter

Jupiter is the fifth and the largest planet in the solar system. Due to its massive size, it is named after the king of ancient Roman God. Unlike other terrestrial planets, it is mainly made of gas. The atmosphere of Jupiter is banded, with multiple stripes running parallel to its equator. The exact chemicals that make Jupiter's belt and zone so colourful are unknown to us. In 1972, NASA sent pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to explore Jupiter. It collected first-ever close-up images of Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. The first spacecraft craft to orbit Jupiter was Galileo. It entered Jupiter's orbit in 1995. In 2003, after completing its 35th orbit, it dived into the giant's atmosphere. Thereafter crushed by the temperature and enormous pressure. Currently, NASA's Juno spacecraft is orbiting the Jovian planet. 

Facts About Jupiter

A Video On Jupiter Facts

Planet Profile

Name Jupiter
Known Satellite 79
Distance from Sun (avg) 1.434 billion km
Equatorial Radius 71,492 km
Polar Radius 66,854 km
Volume 1.43 × 1015 km3
Mass 1.898 × 1027 kg
Surface area 61.42 billion km2
Gravity 24.79 m/s2
Surface Temperature
( at 1 bar)
−108 °C or -162.4 °F
Length of day 0 day 9 hrs 56 min (earth time)
Length of year 12 Earth years
Astronomical symbol

Quick Facts About Jupiter

  1. Jupiter is the first planet to form in our solar system.
  2. Beautiful clouds and whirling storms of Jupiter are only 50 km or 31 miles deep.
  3. So far, only nine spacecraft visited Jupiter. Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft that visited Jupiter.
  4. Jupiter has an axial tilt of only 3°, so it does not experience seasons like Earth.
  5. Because of its composition (mainly hydrogen and helium), Jupiter is also called as Failed Star.
  6. If it was 80 times bigger, then it would have turn into a star.
  7. Generally, wind speed on Jupiter is 360 km/h (223 mph), but it can reach up to 620 km/h (385 mph).
  8. Jupiter also has the strongest gravitational pull than other planets, which is 2.5 times the Earth's gravity.
  9. During the solar system's earliest days, Jupiter acts as a vacuum cleaner. Its massive gravity attracts and destroy many space debris, helped other planets to grow.
  10. Today, Jupiter is the protector of our Earth as it redirects and prevents space debris from entering the inner solar system and hitting the Earth.

Detailed Facts About Jupiter

  • Nobody has claimed Jupiter's discovery

Jupiter - king of the roman gods
Jupiter - king of the ancient Roman gods

The discovery of most planets in our solar system can be linked back to a or team of scientists. But there are a few that have any loose of history. Nobody in the modern world can be credited with the discovery of Jupiter. As the massive bright planet is one of only five planets that can be seen without technical assistance. Even though it orbits the Sun on average at a distance of about 800 million kilometres, it is much big that it can reflect a lot of sunlight. Jupiter could be easily seen with its four biggest moons if the planet's glare didn't hide them.

What is known is that the Romans were the first to give Jupiter a formal name fittingly after their Supreme God and deity of thunder lightning and the sky. If a name must be associated with its discovery, Galileo Galilei was the first person to view the planet via telescope.
  • Jupiter is so big that 1321 Earths could fit inside it

Jupiter compared to the Earth
Jupiter compared to the Earth
© Wikimedia

Jupiter comes in with a radius of 43,441 miles or 69,911 km, which is almost 10,000 miles or 16,000 km larger than the next most giant planet Saturn. It is much bigger that if all other planets combined than it is 2.5 times massive than the rest of the planets. In comparison to our beautiful little world, it would take 11.2 Earths laid side by side to match the diameter of Jupiter. More than a thousand Earths could fit inside it, and it has a mass over 300 times that of our planet.

It's believed that Jupiter's massive size is responsible for redirecting the paths of smaller objects within the solar system. Either sending comets or asteroids into or away from the inner solar system.
  • Jupiter is five times farther from the Sun than our Earth

Jupiter and the asteroid belt

If you look at a map of the solar system, you'll find that Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are relatively close to one another. They are within 150 million miles or 249 million kilometres from the Sun. Then there's Jupiter which just had to be completely different. It separates itself from the first planetary quartet by approximately 300 million miles or 482 million kilometres.

At its closest proximity (perihelion), Jupiter is around 460 million miles or 741 million kilometres from the Sun and at its farthest point (aphelion), it is about 508 million miles 817 million km away, making it nearly 5 times farther away from the Sun than Earth. Its extended distance means Jupiter takes just about 12 Earth years to complete its orbit around the Sun.
  • Jupiter has the shortest day than other planets

Regardless of the 12-year orbital period Jupiter has actually much shorter days than Earth. Where we Earthlings experienced a 24-hour cycle, Jovians get to enjoy a day that's 9 hours and 56 minutes long. That’s the fastest spin of any of the planets in the solar system. Why the shortened cycle? It's all about how fast the planet spins but since Jupiter doesn't have surface features to monitor rotation and the storms move way too fast.

For accurate readings, scientists had to base this figure of Jupiter's magnetic field using radio emissions. It's still not entirely accurate. Since Jupiter is a gaseous planet, different parts of Jupiter such as the equator rotate at different speeds and have slightly deviated day cycles. Its poles experience 5 minutes longer rotation than its equator. This fastest spinning causes bulge at its equator.
  • Jupiter is home to damaging storms

8 cyclones encircle a large cyclone at north pole of jupiter
8 cyclones encircle a massive cyclone at the north pole of Jupiter

When we look at Jupiter, we do not see its surface, we see the tops of its clouds. They’re a strange mix of permanence and change. On top of being fast-moving, storms on Jupiter can grow to cover substantial areas and be incredibly damaging. We're talking about the growth of winds up to thousands of miles or kilometres wide within just a few hours.

The planets own heat source found deep within the mixture of gases towards Jupiter's core. That is primarily responsible for the moist convection that helps drives Jupiter's damaging weather patterns. The process is similar to Earth form storms though.
  • Jupiter's 300 years old iconic Red Spot is shrinking over time

Great red spot compared to earth
Great red spot compared to earth

As damaging as Jupiter's storms are you wouldn't initially think that one could last upwards of 300 years. But that's exactly what is happening in this gas giants atmosphere. The very first up-close imagery of what has been named the Great Red Spot, came from voyager 1 journey in 1979. Though, initial observations of the storm have been dated as far back as 1665. The 300-year-old storm continues to dole out extreme winds exceeding 400 miles or 640 kilometres per hour.

But this massive storm is shrinking! It was substantially bigger and more elongated just a few decades ago. In the 1800s, it was estimated to be over 25,500 miles or 41,038 km across. But in 2017, Nasa's Juno spacecraft recorded its size at 10,000 miles or 16,093km. It changes colour over time, too, having gone from deep red to salmon and then back again. No one knows why its size, shape, and colour change.
  • Galileo also discovered Jupiter's four largest moons

Four Galilean moons
Four Galilean moons
© Flicker

Though Galileo can't technically be credited with Jupiter's discovery, but during his observation of the massive planet in the early 1600s, Galileo came across with four celestial objects surrounding Jupiter. Those were Moons that came to be known as Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. To commemorate Galileo's findings, the group of Jupiter's largest satellites were later dubbed the Galilean moons.

The discovery, though important to those intrigued by Jupiter. Also marked a turning point in how the solar system was viewed. Whereas everything was once believed to have revolved around the earth in the Ptolemaic world system. The Galilean moons showed that celestial bodies could orbit other objects in space.
  • Jupiter's immense gravity helps it to hold 79 moons

Orbits of Jupiter's moons
Orbits of Jupiter's moons
© Wikimedia

Though Galileo laid claim to four of Jupiter's moons, he had no idea that there were more lying in. In fact, the great astronomer was nowhere near finding every one of the gas giants moons. Overall 79 known satellites are orbiting and considering the latest of them was discovered only in 2011. There is a chance that more are out there.

The moons range from a considerably small size of 1.2 miles or 2 kilometres to a much grander at 3273 miles or 5,268 kilometres in diameter. 51 of Jupiter satellites are considered irregular meaning. They were captured within the planet's orbit, rather than having been formed in orbit itself.
  • Jupiter's moon Ganymede is the largest in the solar system

Ganymede - moon of jupiter

Of Jupiter 79 moons, the one that seems to stand out most is Ganymede. Chances are it makes the biggest impression because it's the most massive known moon within our solar system at 3,273 miles or 5,268 kilometres wide. Ganymede is nearly twice the size of Earth's moon. This oversized Galilean moon is so large that it is the eighth largest object in the solar system. Just coming behind Mars and just ahead of Saturn's moon Titan. One of Ganymede's more exciting features is the alleged saltwater ocean that rests 124 miles or 200 kilometres below its icy surface. So, there may be life can be there.
  • Jupiter has the largest magnetic field in the solar system

Jupiter's magnetosphere
Jupiter's magnetosphere
© Wikimedia

If Jupiter is largest, then its magnetic field will also be the largest. It is much massive that if its outline is visible and if we can see it in the night sky, then it would be bigger than our moon. It is 20 times longer than the radius of Jupiter and nearly 20,000 times stronger than Earth's magnetic field.

Jupiter's magnetic field is different from other planets. Researchers are still unsure how its magnetic field generated. Since it is mainly made up of hydrogen and helium, which is not very conductive in nature. So, It is theorised that the enormous pressure of the planet resulted in the formation of liquid metallic hydrogen, which much conducts like metal.
  • Jupiter has no surface but has the largest ocean

Liquid Metallic hydrogen ocean of Jupiter
Liquid Metallic hydrogen ocean of Jupiter
© Wikimedia

Things get really weird below the clouds. As you go down in Jupiter's atmosphere, the pressure will increase with depth. But you will never reach the surface because the planet lacks a solid surface. The gas becomes thicker and hotter and eventually turns into a liquid. Instead of solid-mantle like other terrestrial planets, Jupiter has a vast region covered by liquid metallic hydrogen.

We considered hydrogen as a gas. But if it is very cold, then it turns into a liquid. But due to the immense pressure of Jupiter's atmosphere, hydrogen undergoes this strange transformation. It is believed that temperature at this region is 9,700 °C or 17,500 °F. Hotter than the surface of Sun!
  • Beside Saturn's ring, Jupiter also has a ring system

Rings of Jupiter
Rings of Jupiter

Jupiter is one of the four gaseous giants that have rings. But it is so faint that it can't be seen, even with a telescope. In fact, only the largest telescope in the earth can spot them. That is because it is mostly made of dust and they do not reflect much sunlight as the Saturn's icy ring. The rings were unknown to us before the Voyager 1 discovered Jupiter's rings in 1975.

They are four sets of rings: two wide outer rings "Gossamer Rings", the brightest ring "Main ring" and the innermost ring "Halo ring". Main ring and Halo ring contains remnants of the moon Thebe and Amalthea. As they regularly bombard with impacts craters and the dust spread out to form a ring. When observed in infrared light, Jupiter's rings light up in reddish colour except for Halo ring, which has a blue colour.

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