Jupiter information for kids
Learn interesting facts about Jupiter, our solar system's biggest planet. Find out what that giant red spot really is!
Photo Credit: NASA
Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun, is the biggest planet in our solar system. Jupiter is so big, that it could fit more than 1,300 Earths inside!
Unlike Earth, which has solid ground for us to walk on, Jupiter is a big ball of gas. In its center, scientists think their may be a very thick, very hot, liquid soup. This soup could reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
No one knows for sure what is at Jupiter's core, because the planet can't support life. The pressure is so strong on Jupiter, that anything entering its atmosphere would be crushed immediately, including a spaceship.
If you look at a picture of Jupiter, you'll notice a bunch of swirls and stripes. These are very cold clouds of ammonia and water that swirl around Jupiter's atmosphere at very fast speeds. The famous Great Red Spot is actually a giant storm that has been raging on Jupiter for hundreds of years. The storm is so big, it could fit three earths inside!
On Jupiter, a day is only a little over ten hours long—meaning that Jupiter rotates very fast on its axis. However, it takes Jupiter twelve Earth years to travel once around the sun. This means that each year on Jupiter is equivalent to twelve Earth years!
Jupiter has at least 61 moons and 3 rings. The rings are similar to those found on Saturn, but they are much less visible.
If you look at Jupiter through a telescope, you'll be able to see Jupiter's four big moons—the same moons that Galileo discovered almost 500 years ago. Jupiter is easy to see, and can often be seen without a telescope, because it is one of the brightest planets in the solar system. When you are staring up at Jupiter, remember that it is 466 million miles away from the Sun!
Io is the closest moon to Jupiter. Io is a little bigger than our moon, but is a lot more active. Io is constantly being expanded and contracted because of the gravitational pulls of Jupiter and two other moons—Europa and Ganymede. Due to the constant pull, Io's surface is cracking. Eventually, scientists think Io may crack into many pieces because of the stress. Io is also a volcanic moon, with regular volcanic eruptions.
Callisto is a frozen moon that is bigger than our moon. Callisto appears to be similar to our moon, because it has a lot of craters on its surface. However, scientists believe that there could be a subterranean ocean under Callisto's frozen surface.
Europa is just a little bit smaller than our moon. Europa has a large, watery ocean under its icy surface. Scientists wonder if there is any life in the cold ocean. Future studies may answer this question.
The largest of the Galilean moons is Ganymede. Ganymede is also the largest moon in the solar system. The core of Ganymede is made of liquid iron surrounded by a layer of material that is thought to be similar to a silicon-based substance... This layer is covered with a thick layer of ice. At one time, there were active volcanoes on Ganymede's surface.