Jupiter - Largest Planet in the Solar System

Jupiter - Largest Planet in the Solar System

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system which is more than twice as massive as all the other planets in the solar system combined. It is the fifth planet from the sun. Cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water, floating in an atmosphere of Hydrogen and Helium are what makes Jupiter’s stripes and swirls. The Great Red Spot at the center of Jupiter is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years. Jupiter is surrounded by moons. Like Saturn, Jupiter also has several rings, but Jupiter’s rings are very faint and made of dust, notice.

Highlights of Largest Planet in the Solar System

  • Equatorial Circumference: 439,264 km
  • Equatorial Diameter: 142,984 km
  • First Record: 7th or 8th century BC
  • Known Moons: 67
  • Known Rings: 4
  • Length of day: 9.93 hours
  • Length of year: 11.86 Earth Years
  • Mass: 1.898 × 10^27 kg (that is 31,783% of Earth)
  • Orbit Distance: 778,340,821 km (5.20 AU)
  • Polar Diameter: 133,709 km
  • Surface Temperature: -160 degrees Fahrenheit (-110 degrees Celsius)

How many moons does Jupiter have?

It has four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter kind of looks like a miniature solar system. Jupiter has officially 53 confirmed moons and 26 moons awaiting confirmation of a discovery. Moons are only named after they are confirmed.

Jupiter’s four largest moons are, namely, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In 1610, the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei first observed using an early version of the telescope. These four are known today as the Galilean satellites. Among the four, Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system (even bigger than the planet Mercury). The very few small craters on top of Callisto’s indicate a small degree of current surface activity. On the frozen crust of Europa, a liquid-water ocean with the ingredients for life may lie beneath, making it an attractive place to explore.

The astronomers had no idea about the dimension of the planet when they named it Jupiter (meaning Roman ruler of the gods and heavens, also known as Jove), fortunately the name is appropriate as Jupiter is larger than all the other planets combined.

Does Jupiter have rings?

It was discovered in the year 1979 by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft. It was a surprise to see Jupiter also have rings composed of small, dark particles that can only be seen when backlit by the Sun. As per the data collected from the Galileo spacecraft indicate that Jupiter’s ring system may have been formed by the dust accumulated as interplanetary meteoroids smash into the giant planet’s many moons.
Missions to Jupiter

Galileo is the first person who started to observe and study Jupiter. Thereafter many other scientists have continued to study the curious planet. In 1979, NASA’s spacecraft Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 launched on the giant planet, capturing thousands of pictures of the gas giant. This mission revealed that Jupiter has thin, dusty rings.

In 2016, NASA’s another spacecraft named Juno began orbiting Jupiter. And it was when breathtaking images of Jupiter were sent to earth more quickly. These images gave more detail on the planet. It revealed that the planet is more wild along with cyclone swarms gyrating on its surface.

The Atmosphere of Jupiter

Detail on Jupiter can be observed even with the help of a modest telescope. The particular region of the planet which is visible from the Earth contains various types of clouds. Changes in these cloud systems can occur frequently (over a period of a few hours), the clouds are separated both vertically and horizontally. The fundamental pattern of latitudinal currents is stable for decades.

Jupiter contains alternating bright bands, called zones, and dark bands, called belts. The belt of Jupiter can fade away and reappear with time. Most recently in 2010, the south equatorial belt has totally disappeared and reappeared months later.

What is the Great Red Spot?

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm circling the planet in its southern hemisphere. The storm is twice as wide as Earth. At the storm’s edges, the wind speed reached 270-425 mph (430-680 km/h) (twice the speed of even the strongest hurricanes ever occured on Earth) where it is relatively calm at the center.

The storm is contained by a westward-moving band to its south and an eastward-moving atmospheric band to its north. These swirling bands are also what formed the storm initially.

Could there be Life on Jupiter?

Until now there have found no evidence for life on Jupiter, the main reason being its temperature and atmospheric pressure being very high. The atmosphere grows warmer with depth, on reaching room temperature, i.e. 70 degrees F (21 degrees C), at an altitude the atmospheric pressure is about 10 times as great as it is on Earth.

Interesting Facts about Jupiter

  1. Jupiter the name means the supreme god.
  2. Jupiter has the shortest day when compared with any other planet in the solar system, it completes its rotation in 10 hours.
  3. The magnetic field of Jupiter is 14 times stronger than that of Earth’s.
  4. Jupiter is the third brightest object in the Solar System thus it is slightly visible from the earth even without a telescope.

Most Searched Questions about Jupiter

1. What color is Jupiter?
Ans: The color of Jupiter is yellow or yellowish-orange.

2. When was Jupiter discovered?
Ans: The first detailed observations of Jupiter were made by Galileo Galilei in 1610 with a small telescope.

3. How far is Jupiter from the sun?
Ans: On average Jupiter is 5.2 astronomical units (778 million kilometers or 484 million miles) away from the Sun.

4. Can we see Jupiter from earth?
Ans: Yes. Jupiter is visible from Earth even without a telescope as Jupiter shines brighter.

5. How many Earths can fit in Jupiter?

Ans: More than 1,300 Earths would fit inside Jupiter.

6. Does it rain diamonds on Jupiter?
Ans: Lightning storms make it rain diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter.

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