Jupiter, the largest planet of our solar system was named so by the Romans after their King of Gods. And the Greeks named it Zeus, who was the son of Cronus. He was believed to be the most significant deity in both the pantheons. There’s definitely an aura of godliness surrounding this giant planet and in addition to it, being enclosed by various moons and rings, it appears as if the foremost god is being encircled by many miniature divinities. Its appearance too—like a drapery of vibrant colours and range of atmospheric features—is no less godly. When observed from the finest telescope, Jupiter gives a marvellous look, like a wall-hanging with woven designs in it, made so by the cloud formations. Go through the article on Jupiter to know some amazing facts about this huge planet of the solar system.
Distance From Sun: 778,412,020 km
Distance From Earth: 588.5×106 km (Minimum), 968.1×106 km (Maximum)
Mean Radius: 69,911 km
Mean Circumference: 439,263.8 km
Volume: 1,431,281,810,739,360 km3
Mass: 1.898 x 1027 kg
Density: 1.326 g/cm3
Surface Area: 61,418,738,571 km2
Surface Gravity: 24.79 m/s2
Length of Day: 0.41354 Earth Days
Length of Year (Orbital Period): 11.862615 Earth Years
Number of Moons: 64
Number of Rings: 3
Average Orbit Velocity: 47,002 km/h
Orbit Inclination: 1.304 degrees
Orbit Circumference: 4,887,595,931 km
Average Temperature: -148 0C
Interesting And Fun Facts About Jupiter
- Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky after the Sun, Earth’s moon and the planet Venus; however, sometimes, the planet Mars too appears brighter than Jupiter.
- Jupiter has dark belts and light zones formed by strong east-west winds in the upper atmosphere. It also faces dynamic storm systems and the Great Red Spot which is a massive spinning storm observed for more than 300 years. Recently, three storms combined to create the Little Red Spot which is about half the size of the Great Red Spot.
- The discovery of the Great Red Spot in Jupiter is mainly credited to Cassini or Robert Hooke, who discovered it in the 17th century. It is oval-shaped, 12,000km by 25,000 km in area, and is big and strong enough to capture two Earths at a time. Infrared observations and the direction of its rotations indicate that it is a high-pressure area and, clouds over it are higher and colder than the surrounding areas.
- It is believed that at the centre of the Jupiter, the huge pressure may hold a solid core of ice-rock nearly the size of the Earth.
- The magnetic field of Jupiter is about 20,000 times as stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field.
- The rings and moons of Jupiter are engrafted in a deep radiation belt of electrons and ions.
- The Jovian magnetosphere of Jupiter, made up of charged particles and fields, expands 1 million to 3 million kilometres towards the Sun and tapers into a windsock-shaped tail extending more than 1 billion km behind Jupter as far as Saturn’s orbit.
- Io, Jupiter’s moon, is the most volcanic and highly active planetary moon in the solar system.
- Ganymede, another one of Jupiter’s moon, is the biggest planetary moon and the only one in the solar system which is recognised for having its own magnetic field.
- In 2003, 23 new moons orbiting around Jupiter were discovered by the astronomers and after this, the total number of Jupiter’s moons reached to 49 which was the highest in the solar system. Several smaller outer moons can be asteroids grasped by the gravity of Jupiter.
- The atmosphere of Jupiter is formed of 90% hydrogen and 10% helium. Deep inside the atmosphere, the temperature and the pressure rises, compressing the hydrogen gas into liquid.
- In 1979, Voyager 1 spacecraft sent by NASA found the rings of Jupiter. A flattened main ring and an inner ring which looks like cloud known as halo, are both made up of small, dark particles. The third ring, known as the gossamer ring due to its clearness, is actually three rings of microscopic debris from Jupiter’s three small moons namely Amalthea, Adrastea and Thebe.
- It is believed that, the ring system of Jupiter is formed by the dust which was created when interplanetary meteoroids crushed into four smaller inner moons of the planet.
- Jupiter radiates more energy into space when compared to the amount of energy it receives from the Sun. The heat is generated by the mechanism of Kelvin-Helmholtz, the slow gravitational compression of this massive planet. This core heat possibly causes convection deep inside the liquid layers of Jupiter and is also responsible for the complex motions which can be seen on the top of clouds.
- The first detailed observations of Jupiter were done in 1610 by Galileo Galilei.
- It was on 7th January 1610 that Galileo Galilei discovered the four biggest moons of Jupiter, namely, Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. At present, all these four moons are known as the Galilean Satellites.
- Galileo recorded their motions to and fro around Jupiter and this was the very first discovery of a centre of motion not actually focused on Earth. It was also the leading point in support of the heliocentric theory of the motions of the planets given by Copernicus. However, the open support of this theory resulted in investigation and also brought problems for Galileo.
- Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to cross the asteroid belt in 1973 and flew by Jupiter.
- In 1994, the astronomers observed the event whereby the pieces of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the southern hemisphere of Jupiter.
- Again, on 20th July 2009, about 15 years after the incident of collision of the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter, an asteroid or a comet slammed into the southern hemisphere of Jupiter.
- The Galileo spacecraft carried out a probe into the atmosphere of Jupiter and conducted comprehensive observations of the planet, its moons and rings. This process went on from 1995 to 2003.
- NASA planned a mission known as Juno which conducted an in-depth study of this massive planet from a polar orbit which was supposed to get launched in 2011. This was meant for examining the chemistry, interior structure, magnetosphere and atmosphere.
- Jupiter looks like a composition of a star and if it had been around 80 times more enormous then, surely, it would have been a star instead of being a planet.
- The gravitational field of Jupiter influences various asteroids that have clustered into the regions preceding and following Jupiter in its orbit around the Sun. These are called as Trojan asteroids, after three huge asteroids including Achilles, Hector and Agamemnon, names taken from the lliad, Homer’s epic related to the Trojan War.
- Due to its fast rotation, Jupiter’s shape is that of an oblate spheroid.