The Planet Jupiter Facts: Compare Size to All Other Planets
Mass of JupiterClick thumbnail to view full-size
Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun, is our solar system's largest planet. It is so large that it could fit one thousand Earth's. If we were to look through a telescope, we would see a large red spot on Jupiter's surface, which is actually one of its large unpredictable thunderstorms that surround the planet. That red spot alone is slightly larger than our entire planet. If we were on a jumbo jet, it would take us two to three weeks to travel around Jupiter, whereas on Earth it only takes us two days. It also revolves much more quickly than Earth, but its rotation around the sun is much slower taking twelve Earth years to complete the travel. Due to its large mass, it produces a heavy gravitational pull, which means a hundred pound woman would weigh two-hundred-sixty-four pounds on Jupiter's surface.
Composition of Jupiter's Atmosphere
To the naked eye, Jupiter's atmosphere appears to be similar to that of Earth's, except the clouds are not white like ours are. They are multicolored, because of the many different chemicals that lie in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is comprised mostly of hydrogen, with helium being the next largest gas at 15 percent. Other gases found in the atmosphere include small amounts of ammonia, methane, acetylene, ethane, phosphine, and water vapor.
Unlike Earth, once you pass through the cloud layer, the planet becomes extremely hot. So hot, that we have not been able to see what Jupiter's terrain looks like. Whenever a probe has gotten close, we lose contact with it. This is mostly due to a large magnetic disruption Jupiter lets off. So much of what we know is about the atmosphere around Jupiter, and it is believed that the planet is a mass of gases rather than a solid mass to land on.
Jupiter has 62 moons, unlike our planet that only has one. Jupiter's 4 biggest moons are named Europa, Ganymede, Callisto and Io.
Io, pronounced eye-oh, is as big as our moon. During one probe's trip to Jupiter, the probe detected a very active volcano on the moon's surface.
The moon Callisto is much more pockmarked than the other moons, making it much duller than the rest.
Europa is a very arctic place made up of ice, containing many cracks along its surface. Due to the massive icy atmosphere, it is believed that there is more water in the form of ice on the surface of Europa than on our entire planet. Some believe that there might even be life on the Europa due to its water content.
The discovery of these moons caused scientists to realize that the Earth was not the center of the universe, as previously believed. When they realized that these moons were circulating around Jupiter, scientists realized that each planet had their own gravitational pull. This allowed them to realize that it was a possibility that the Earth was not the center.
Image of Jupiter
A Space Vacuum
Being so large, one would assume the rotation would be slower than the Earth. In actuality, Jupiter rotates very rapidly. So quickly that one day here is equal to ten hours there. That means, if you were to stand on one spot of Jupiter, the sun would rise every ten hours. This is the shortest day of all the planets. Its fast rotation and its massive size cause it to behave like an outer space vacuum. Debris that flies loose in our universe finds its way to Jupiter.
It is believed that if Jupiter did not exist, we would be hit by comets once every couple of years. There was proof of this in 1994, when the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter. If it would have hit Earth, it would have been catastrophic resulting in the end of entire continents. It may have also pushed us off our natural gravitational pull putting an end to all civilization on Earth. When looking at Jupiter, the equator appears to be bulging out with a diameter of 142,984 km. The bulge is most likely a consequence of the fast rotation and the vacuum type pull.
Jupiter is just one of our many planets in our universe, yet it might be one of the most important, as it acts like a vacuum protecting the rest of the planets in our solar system.
Jupiter's Moon Europa
© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz