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15 Interesting Facts About Jupiter

Updated on November 22, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Photo of Jupiter taken by the space probe Cassini.  The fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar system, Jupiter is certainly a gas giant by any measure, and has been known about by astronomers since ancient times.
Photo of Jupiter taken by the space probe Cassini. The fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar system, Jupiter is certainly a gas giant by any measure, and has been known about by astronomers since ancient times. | Source

Jupiter is a fascinating planet, partly because it is so very different from our own planet, the Earth.

It is huge in size, and rather than being solid, its surface essentially consists of gasses (mainly hydrogen and helium).

Astronomers have known about the planet since ancient times and it features in many myths and religions.

It has been explored by robotic spacecraft, but no human has ever gone there.

I hope that you enjoy reading my 15 fun facts about Jupiter and find them interesting!

1. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System - 318 times larger than Earth. Its mass is one-thousandth of that of the Sun, which sounds not that big until you consider that that means it has 2.5 times the mass of all the other Solar System planets put together.

2. The planet is named after the Roman god, who overthrew his father, Saturn and became the king of the gods.

A wall painting depicting the Roman god, found in Pompeii, with eagle and globe.  He was seen as the king of the gods, and was the chief deity of Roman state religion until Christianity became the dominant religion.
A wall painting depicting the Roman god, found in Pompeii, with eagle and globe. He was seen as the king of the gods, and was the chief deity of Roman state religion until Christianity became the dominant religion. | Source

3. Jupiter is mainly composed of hydrogen. A quarter of its mass is helium, despite helium only making up around a tenth of the number of molecules. It may well have a rocky core, but as with the other gas giants, the planet has no obvious solid surface.

4. It is the 5th planet from the Sun, between Venus and Saturn. The maximum distance it reaches from the Sun when orbiting is 508 million miles (817 million km).

Jupiter, a world far larger than Earth, is so warm that it currently radiates more internal heat than it receives from the Sun.

— Seth Shostak

5. The colored bands around the planet are caused by thick clouds of poisonous gases being whipped around by the rapid spin of the planet.

Maybe the search for life shouldn't restrict attention to planets like Earth. Science fiction writers have other ideas: balloon-like creatures floating in the dense atmospheres of planets such as Jupiter, swarms of intelligent insects, nano-scale robots and more.

— Martin Rees

6. The planet has many moons orbiting around it, at least 66. Its four biggest moons are called Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They each have eccentric orbits of the planet.

Image of Jupiter and Io captured on January 1, 2001 by Cassini.  Io is the planet's largest moon, but the photo demonstrates the enormous size discrepancy between the two bodies.
Image of Jupiter and Io captured on January 1, 2001 by Cassini. Io is the planet's largest moon, but the photo demonstrates the enormous size discrepancy between the two bodies. | Source
Europa: Jupiter's second largest moon and the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei. Jupiter has many moons with Io being the largest.
Europa: Jupiter's second largest moon and the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei. Jupiter has many moons with Io being the largest. | Source

7. Jupiter's Great Red Spot was first observed by telescope and noted by Giovanni Cassini, who mentioned it in 1665. It is basically a giant storm where hurricane winds blow. A hundred years ago the spot was 25,000 miles (40,000 km) across. It has now shrunk to only half the size, but it is still huge.

8. Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet in the Solar System. The rapid spinning distorts the shape of the planet, making it that of an oblate spheroid, with a small but noticeable bulge around its equator.

9. The planet has a very powerful magnetic field. If you went there, you would weigh two and a half times as much as you would on Earth.

Mars still remains the astrobiology community's number one choice for 'nearest rock with life,' but there are many researchers who argue that the moons of Jupiter are better bets. In particular, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are all thought to hide vast oceans of liquid water beneath their icy, outer skins.

— Seth Shostak

10. The planet has been visited by spacecraft 8 times. The first spacecraft to go there was Pioneer 10, which set off in 1972 and made a flyby the following year, capturing and transmitting over 500 images of Jupiter.

Pioneer 10 during the latter stages of its construction.  The American space probe was the first to complete a mission to the planet Jupiter. It later achieved fame as the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System.
Pioneer 10 during the latter stages of its construction. The American space probe was the first to complete a mission to the planet Jupiter. It later achieved fame as the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. | Source

11. The first clear and up close photographs of Jupiter came from Voyager 1, which was a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, visiting the planet in 1979. At its closest, Voyager 1 was 217,000 miles (349,000 kilometers) from the planet's center.

Voyager 1 is currently the farthest spacecraft from Earth.  Launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer Solar System, the space probe began photographing Jupiter in January 1979 and made its closest approach to the planet in March 1979.
Voyager 1 is currently the farthest spacecraft from Earth. Launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer Solar System, the space probe began photographing Jupiter in January 1979 and made its closest approach to the planet in March 1979. | Source

12. Although they are very faint, Jupiter does have rings. There are three of them and they are called Gossamer, Main and Halo. They are composed of dust, unlike Saturn's rings which are ice.

Illustration showing Jupiter's rings.  There are three main segments, called the halo, a relatively bright main ring, and an outer gossamer ring.  The planet's rings are made of dust, unlike Saturn's which are ice.
Illustration showing Jupiter's rings. There are three main segments, called the halo, a relatively bright main ring, and an outer gossamer ring. The planet's rings are made of dust, unlike Saturn's which are ice. | Source

13. The planet can be seen from Earth without a telescope. It is the 3rd brightest object in the Solar System, after Venus and the Moon.

14. A day on Jupiter is about the same length of time as 10 Earth hours.

15. A year on Jupiter is about the same length of time as 12 Earth years.

Image illustrating the order of the planets and their relative sizes compared with each other.  Jupiter is the fifth, and by far the largest planet.  It is located between Venus and Saturn.
Image illustrating the order of the planets and their relative sizes compared with each other. Jupiter is the fifth, and by far the largest planet. It is located between Venus and Saturn. | Source

Solar System Facts

  • Our Solar System is made up of planets, minor planets, moons, comets, asteroids, dust and gas.
  • It formed about 4.6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud.
  • Most of the Solar System's mass is in the Sun. Most of the rest is in Jupiter.
  • For many thousands of years people didn't understand the Solar System and believed that Earth was at the center of the Universe.
  • There are 8 planets in the Solar System: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
  • There are 5 dwarf planets: Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake and Haumea.

Three different views of the dwarf planet, Pluto, taken by the Hubble telescope.  Pluto is the largest object in the Kuiper belt.  Mainly made up of rock and ice, it has about a sixth of the mass of the Moon and a third of its volume.
Three different views of the dwarf planet, Pluto, taken by the Hubble telescope. Pluto is the largest object in the Kuiper belt. Mainly made up of rock and ice, it has about a sixth of the mass of the Moon and a third of its volume. | Source

© 2012 Paul Goodman

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      cody 5 months ago

      awsome

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      Mariah Shrader 15 months ago

      This website has been very helpful. I am happy to say that I have got a lot of information for it. I hope that this website will continue to be updated and up loaded on. So thank you very much for sharing all this information about the Solar System! Also it is called this pitiable thing called a book that would also work but I chose to use this instead, this world need a good wake up call ! B So yeah ......... BYE NOWWWWWW ..................................................................... LOL ............................BYE Felicia...........

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      Doug West 2 years ago from Raymore, MO

      I liked your Jupiter article so I embedded a link to it in my Hub "Comets: Visitors from Deep Space".

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      travelerme 4 years ago

      15 facts just reach the outer ring

    • mcspocky lm profile image

      mcspocky lm 4 years ago

      Very interesting! :)