Jupiter is the biggest of the planets called the Gas Giants. It is huge compared with any other planet in our solar system and has 67 moons orbiting it! There is a huge storm raging on the planet called the Great Red Spot. Here are some facts on this enormous planet.
- Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun. It is 483 million miles (777 million kilometres) away from the sun.
- Jupiter is named after the Roman king of the gods. This is probably because of its size. It has a diameter of 86,881 miles(139,822 kilometers) making it the biggest planet in the solar system by far. It would take a massive 1000 Earths to fill Jupiter! In fact all the other planets could fit in there in one go!
- Jupiter has 67 moons orbiting the planet. And these are just the confirmed ones, there are potentially more undiscovered! They have been put into three different groups. Inner moons which orbit closest to Jupiter, Galilean moons which are the largest ones and outer moons which are much smaller and further away.
- Galileo (1564-1642) discovered Jupiter’s moons. The planet itself is large enough to be seen with the naked eye, but it was not until the telescope was invented that we could see its moons.
- Jupiters largest moon is called Ganymede and is the biggest one in the solar system. If it were orbiting the Sun instead of Jupiter it would most likely be classed as a planet and is only slightly smaller than Mars.
- A day on Jupiter is 9 hours and 55 minutes. This is how long the planet takes to rotate on its axis. Jupiter has the shortest days of all eight planets.
- Jupiter takes 4328 earth days to orbit the sun. Making a year on Jupiter the same as 11.86 Earth years.
- Jupiter has very faint rings around it. These rings are very dark unlike Saturn’s better known bright ones. They are mostly made up of dust and small rock pieces. They were found by a NASA mission in 1980.
- Jupiter has a strong magnetic field. It is up to fourteen times stronger than the magnetic field on Earth. This is thought to be because of its rapid rotation and its layer of liquid hydrogen.
- Jupiter only has a small axial tilt of 3.13 degrees and so does not experience seasons like Earth and Mars.
- Jupiter has a Great Red Spot. This was first observed in 1664 and is actually a huge storm that has been raging on the planet for as long as we have been able to see it.
- Jupiter has the largest atmosphere in the solar system. It is made up of hydrogen, helium, methane and ammonia.
- Jupiter is surrounded by very thick clouds. These are estimated to be 30 miles (50 kilometres) thick. They are thought to be made up of two layers, a very thick one and a smaller thing one.
- It is not known whether Jupiter has a solid surface. Below the clouds are thousands of miles of layers of hydrogen and helium gas. Underneath that is liquid hydrogen. Further below that liquid hydrogen becomes hot liquid metal. It is not yet known whether a solid core lies underneath it all, the temperatures would have destroyed any equipment we sent there to find out.
- Jupiter has lots of gravity. This is due to its size. If you took a heavy item to Jupiter it would weigh much more than it does on Earth.
- Jupiter is the first of the planets known as the Gas Giants. The gas giants are planets made up mostly of gases with very little rock material at their cores. The other gas giants are Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
- Eight spacecraft have visited Jupiter to this point. There are others planned for the future and much more to learn about this planet.
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