Vol.1, No.6

Jupiter facts and information

This article contains an array of information about the planet Jupiter.

Jupiter in space
Photo Credit: Martin Adams
The planet Jupiter is three hundred and eighteen times bigger then the planet Earth making it the largest known planet within our solar system. It is the fourth brightest object in the sky and was once referred to as a great wondering star, until Galileo discovered the four large moons of Jupiter known as the Galilean moons in the year 1610 making it obvious that the star was in fact a planet. Jupiter has sixty three known satellites including the four Galilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto many of the other satellites are not named and it is possible that there are some yet to even be discovered.

Jupiter is 142,984 kilometers in diameter and is considered one of the great gas planets of our solar system. It is possible that Jupiter has a rock core that is about fifteen times the size of the earth, but that has never scientifically been proven. Just above the probable core is the main structure of planet, liquid metallic hydrogen, which is also the source of Jupiter's strong magnetic field. The planets main components on all atmospheric levels consist mainly of hydrogen and at least ten percent helium with traces of water, rock, ice, methane and ammonia. Jupiter has a small set of three rings that were formed by the dust and rock residue of its inner moons and meteor impacts. Because of the strong magnetic field that the planet creates, the rings are constantly replenished with new dust and rock as the old is swept away.

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun, and with an average surface temperature of -185.8 Fahrenheit equal to 152 Kelvins it's surface is just a little bit warmer then Saturn which is the sixth planet from the Sun. Even though the surface temperature is so cold, the core of Jupiter is estimated to be very hot with a temperature of about 20,000 Kelvins. Several strong windstorms take place on the surface of Jupiter and it is common for the wind speeds to reach over six hundred kilometers per hour. The most well known windstorm on Jupiter is called the Great Red Spot and is monitored by NASA along with several other large storms on the planets surface.

Jupiter has been the partial focus of many fly by missions over the years that have provided scientist and the public alike with some amazing pictures and interesting data about the massive planet. Only one probe, the Galileo, has been sent with the soul purpose of orbiting Jupiter to gather useful scientific information about the planets atmosphere. The Galileo was orbiting Jupiter when the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the southern hemisphere of the planet creating a marvelous display in the year 1994. The Galileo orbited Jupiter for seven years gathering valuable information about the planet and a few of its moons before being deliberately crashed, ending the mission.

An interesting fact about the planet Jupiter is that the name is derived from the Greek word Jove that is also the Greek name for Zeus, the mythical Greek god. Zeus was the son of Cronus also known as Saturn and was the ruler of Olympus. Many of Jupiter's moons are named for the many lovers that Zeus entertained throughout his life. Another interesting fact about Jupiter is that when Galileo started making interesting discoveries about the planet he got in trouble for pointing out how the planet supported the Copernican theory. Galileo, who was regarded as a heretic by the Inquisition, was never fully recognized for the amazing discoveries that he made throughout his life until long after his death.