Fifth planet from Sun, Jupiter is the largest planet that dwells in our Solar System. The discovery of this giant planet was important because it proved that Earth was not the center of universe. First time after the discovery of Jupiter and 4 of its moons, it was seen that celestial objects were circling another body that was not Earth. Copernicus suggested that Earth was not the center of universe as it was believed back then. Over centuries, several other discoveries about this giant planet kept surprising the scientists all over the world. So, let us learn 40 interesting Jupiter facts and find out what’s there in that planet that keeps the astronomers busy!
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 1-5
1. Jupiter being the largest planet in our Solar System has been rightly named. Jupiter is the name of King of all gods in Roman Mythology.
2. The Greeks also named the planet after their god Zeus. Zeus was the king of all gods in Greek Mythology.
3. Jupiter was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei. Galileo also discovered 4 of the moons of Jupiter. These moons are aptly called the Galilean moons in honor of their discoverer. The four moons discovered by Galileo were Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io.
4. Jupiter is so massive that its total mass is twice as much as the mass of all planets in Solar System combined together. Jupiter is capable of holding 1300 Earths in it. However, the mass of Jupiter is only 1 thousandths of the total mass of Sun.
5. Interestingly, if Jupiter had managed to grab 80 times more mass than its current mass, it would actually end up being a star instead of a planet.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 6-10
7. Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet in Solar System. It completes one rotation around its axis in just under 10 hours.
8. Jupiter is 7% wider at its equator compare to its width at the poles. This is because of its extreme spinning speed that makes the planet bulge out at its waistline.
9. The atmosphere of Jupiter is composed of 10.2% helium, 89.8% molecular hydrogen and trace amounts of ammonia hydrosulfide aerosols, water ice aerosols, water, ethane, hydrogen deuterite, ammonia and methane.
10. The core of Jupiter is massive and dense. Its composition is uncertain. The core is surrounded by a layer of helium-rich fluid metallic hydrogen and the whole thing is then wrapped up in an atmosphere that primarily consists of molecular hydrogen.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 11-15
11. The mass of the core of Jupiter is 10 times the mass of our Earth. The layer of fluid metallic hydrogen that covers the core extends up to 90% of the diameter of the planet. Some scientists believe that the core of Jupiter is made of rocks, metals, water ice, ammonia ice and methane ice.
12. The magnetic field of Jupiter is 20,000 times stronger to that of Earth’s magnetic field.
13. Because of its gargantuan magnetic field, the planet is capable of trapping electronically charged particles such as electrons and other particles. These particles form a belt around the planet. The moons and the rings of Jupiter are regularly blasted with radiations.
14. The radiations from this belt is 1000 times stronger than the lethal dose of radiation for humans. The radiations are so intense that they even damaged the Galileo probe of NASA that was heavily shielded.
15. The entire magnetosphere of Jupiter (the magnetic fields and the charged particles) extend out to some 600 million miles behind the planet and some 600,000 miles to 2 million miles towards the Sun.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 16-20
16. Strong radio waves are emitted by Jupiter that can be easily detected from Earth. These radio waves are released in two forms:
- Directly from the radiation belt of Jupiter.
- Io (the closest of the large moons of Jupiter) passes through various magnetic field regions of the planet.
17. Jupiter has colored bands. These are visible in form of light zones and dark belts. These colored bands originate because of the strong east-west winds that travel in the upper atmosphere of the planet at a speed of 640 kilometers per hour or 400 miles per hour.
18. The white clouds are formed by frozen ammonia crystals while the dark clouds are the results of other chemicals that are found in the darker belts.
19. Blue clouds can be seen at the deepest visible levels of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
20. The Great Red Spot is the most extraordinary feature of Jupiter. It is actually a storm akin to a hurricane on Earth. This storm has been visible for at least 300 years. There are times when the Great Red Spot completely disappears. This Great Red Spot, at the widest points, is 3 times as wide as Earth’s diameter. The edges of the spot spin around its center in a counterclockwise direction at a speed of 360 kilometers per hour or 225 miles per hour.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 21-25
21. The Great Red Spot actually changes colors quite often. The color can vary anywhere from brick red to slight brown. Scientists believe that this change in color is usually because of small amounts of phosphorus and sulfur in ammonia crystals present in the clouds of Jupiter.
22. Jupiter’s gravity is 2.4 times that of Earth. This means that a person weighing 200 pounds on Earth will weigh 480 pounds on Jupiter.
23. The atmospheric pressure of Jupiter is 1000 times greater than that on Earth. Any human will be easily crushed to death at that kind of atmospheric pressure. Tardigrades can survive!
24. Temperature on Jupiter varies and depends on the depth from the upper atmosphere.
25. The average distance of Jupiter from Sun is 778,412,020 km or 483,682,810 miles, which is 5.203 times the distance of Earth from Sun. The closest (Perihelion) the planet can get to the Sun is 740,742,600 km or 460,276,100 miles and the farthest (Aphelion) it can get away from Sun is 816,081,400 km or 507,089,500 miles.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 26-30
26. The mass of Jupiter is 1,898,130,000,000,000,000 billion kg, which is 317.83 times the mass of Earth.
27. The equatorial and the polar diameters of the planet are 142,984 km and 133,709 km respectively, while the equatorial circumference of the planet is 439,264 km.
28. The total numbers of recorded moons of Jupiter are 67, most of which are named after the names of many lovers of Roman gods. The four largest moons of Jupiter are the Galilean satellites.
29. The largest moon is the Ganymede which is also the largest moon in entire Solar System. Ganymede, as a matter of fact, is even bigger than Pluto and Mercury.
30. The credit of being the most volcanically active celestial body in Solar System goes to Io. The Io has a typical yellow-orange appearance because of the sulfur spewed out by its volcanic activities. The reason why Io is so volcanically active is that when Io gets closer to Jupiter while traveling on its orbit, the immense gravitational tug of Jupiter causes tides on the moon. These aren’t usual tides. The gravitational pull of Jupiter raises the solid surface of Io to a height of 100 meters or 300 feet. This generates tremendous amounts of heat enough to trigger volcanic activities. It happens only to Io because it is the closest to Jupiter among all moons.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 31-35
31. Europa, the other large moon of Jupiter, is another interesting celestial body. Its crust is frozen solid and is composed mainly of water ice. Scientists think that underneath the frozen ice is a vast ocean of liquid water which hold twice the amount of water present on Earth.
32. Scientists also believe that Ganymede and Callisto may also have icy oceans hidden beneath their crusts.
33. Callisto’s surface is probably made of colorless dark rocks. The reason which scientists think so is that this moon has the lowest albedo or reflectivity of all four Galilean satellites.
34. The weirdest thing that took scientists by surprise is that Jupiter has rings just like Saturn. Even weird is the fact that there are actually three rings! All these rings are way fainter than the neighboring Saturn and were first discovered in 1979 around the equator of the planet. The Voyager 1 spacecraft of NASA get the credit for this discovery.
35. The innermost ring is known as the halo. It is actually a ring that looks like a cloud and has a thickness of nearly 20,000 km or 12,000 miles.
Interesting Jupiter Facts: 36-40
36. The second ring is the main ring which is relatively brighter than the halo. The halo extends from the middle of the main ring and reaches all the way up to the top of the clouds of the planet. Both the halo and the main ring are made of dark and small particles.
37. Then the outermost ring is the gossamer ring. It is pretty transparent and is composed of microscopic celestial debris. The debris primarily consists of dust particles that have diameters of less than 10 microns. Scientists think that this debris comes from the moons Adrastea, Thebe and Amalthea.
38. The interesting part is that the gossamer ring is actually made of three distinct rings. When measured from the center of the planet, the gossamer ring’s outer edge extends all the way out to 80,000 miles (approximately 129,000 kilometers).
39. For every one revolution of Jupiter around the Sun, the Earth completes 11.86 revolutions.
40. Till date, a total of 8 aircrafts have visited this gigantic gaseous orb and the 9th one is on its way. The first 8 are Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini and New Horizons Mission. The 9th one that is scheduled to reach Jupiter in July of 2016 is known as Juno.