15 Interesting Facts About Jupiter
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
© 2012 Paul Goodman