Five Fun Facts about the Planet Jupiter: Question and Answer
Mass of JupiterClick thumbnail to view full-size
How Big Is the Biggest Planet? And What's with the Big Red Spot?
Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun, is our solar system's largest planet and was first studied by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Since then, we have learned much more about this massive planet. It is so large that it could fit one thousand Earths. It is believed that if Earth were a nickel, Jupiter would be a basketball. Eleven earths can fit along the diameter of Jupiter.
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 twice as large than our entire planet. Only recently a "dark spot" has also been found on Jupiter's North Pole, which is nearly if not as large as the red spot. Unlike the red spot, it was only recently found, where the red spot has been documented for over three hundred years.
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. So how big exactly is this planet, check out this table!
Size in Comparison to Earth per NASA
1,431,281,810,739,360 km3 aproximately 1.5 X 10^15 km3
1,083,206,916,846 km3 approximately 1 X 10^12 km3
1,898,130,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg approximately 1. x 10^27 kg
5,972,190,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg approximately 6 X 10^24
Circumference at Equator
What Is Jupiter's Atmosphere Made Of?
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 colors are a result of sulfur and phosphorus-containing gases that emerge from its warm interior.
The atmosphere is comprised mostly of hydrogen. Helium makes up 15 percent of the atmosphere, which is the second most plentiful chemical in Jupiter's atmosphere. Other gases found in the atmosphere include small amounts of ammonia, methane, acetylene, ethane, phosphine, and water vapor. It is believed that the planet is actually made up of the same materials as a star, but it was not massive enough to ignite. It contains the largest ocean of any planet, except instead of an ocean of water, it is an ocean of hydrogen.
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; therefore, we know more about the atmosphere around Jupiter, not near the planet. Some believe that the probes that have passed through have been vaporized due to the extreme heat. It is believed that the planet may actually be comprised of a mass of gasses rather than a solid mass to land on.
Moons of Jupiter
How Many Moons Does Jupiter Have?
Jupiter has 53 confirmed moons and 14 provisional ones. Jupiter's 4 biggest moons are named Io, Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa and were first identified by Galileo.
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.
Ganymede is the largest moon and is even bigger than the planet Mercury
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, which is why many scientists hope to someday be able to explore there.
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.
Jupiter's Moon Europa
Why Does It Have the Shortest Days of All the Planets?
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.
Does It Really Protect Our Earth from Comets?
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 at 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.
- Hubs, Greensleeves. “Astronomy; Wonders of the Solar System - Planets, Moons and the Sun.” HubPages, HubPages, 7 Nov. 2015, hubpages.com/education/Wonders-of-the-Solar-System-Greensleeves#img_url_4620638.
- “Jupiter Facts.” Jupiter Facts - PlanetFacts.net, www.planetfacts.net/Jupiter-Facts.html.
- "Solar System Exploration: By the Numbers." NASA. January 12, 2018. Accessed April 09, 2018. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/by-the-numbers/.
© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz