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Jupiter 101 - National Geographic

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10 Need-to-Know Things About Jupiter

Jupiter has the shortest day in the solar system. One day on Jupiter takes only about 10 hours the time it takes for Jupiter to rotate or spin around once , and Jupiter makes a complete orbit around the Sun a year in Jovian time in about 12 Earth years 4, Earth days. Its equator is tilted with respect to its orbital path around the Sun by just 3 degrees. This means Jupiter spins nearly upright and does not have seasons as extreme as other planets do. The temperatures, pressures and materials that characterize this planet are most likely too extreme and volatile for organisms to adapt to.

While planet Jupiter is an unlikely place for living things to take hold, the same is not true of some of its many moons. Europa is one of the likeliest places to find life elsewhere in our solar system. There is evidence of a vast ocean just beneath its icy crust, where life could possibly be supported.

With four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter forms a kind of miniature solar system. Jupiter has 53 confirmed moons and 26 provisional moons awaiting confirmation of discovery. Moons are named after they are confirmed. Jupiter's four largest moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto—were first observed by the astronomer Galileo Galilei in using an early version of the telescope.

These four moons are known today as the Galilean satellites, and they're some of the most fascinating destinations in our solar system. Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system even bigger than the planet Mercury. A liquid-water ocean with the ingredients for life may lie beneath the frozen crust of Europa, making it a tempting place to explore.

Discovered in by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, Jupiter's rings were a surprise, as they are composed of small, dark particles and are difficult to see except when backlit by the Sun. Data from the Galileo spacecraft indicate that Jupiter's ring system may be formed by dust kicked up as interplanetary meteoroids smash into the giant planet's small innermost moons.

Jupiter took shape when the rest of the solar system formed about 4. Jupiter took most of the mass left over after the formation of the Sun, ending up with more than twice the combined material of the other bodies in the solar system. In fact, Jupiter has the same ingredients as a star, but it did not grow massive enough to ignite. About 4 billion years ago, Jupiter settled into its current position in the outer solar system, where it is the fifth planet from the Sun. The composition of Jupiter is similar to that of the Sun—mostly hydrogen and helium. Deep in the atmosphere, pressure and temperature increase, compressing the hydrogen gas into a liquid.

This gives Jupiter the largest ocean in the solar system—an ocean made of hydrogen instead of water.

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Scientists think that, at depths perhaps halfway to the planet's center, the pressure becomes so great that electrons are squeezed off the hydrogen atoms, making the liquid electrically conducting like metal. Jupiter's fast rotation is thought to drive electrical currents in this region, generating the planet's powerful magnetic field.

It is still unclear if, deeper down, Jupiter has a central core of solid material or if it may be a thick, super-hot and dense soup. It could be up to 90, degrees Fahrenheit 50, degrees Celsius down there, made mostly of iron and silicate minerals similar to quartz. The planet is mostly swirling gases and liquids. The extreme pressures and temperatures deep inside the planet crush, melt and vaporize spacecraft trying to fly into the planet. Jupiter's appearance is a tapestry of colorful cloud bands and spots.

The orbit of a planet is the time and path it takes to go around the Sun. In the amount of time it takes for Jupiter to orbit the Sun one time, the Earth orbits the Sun The average distance between Jupiter and the Sun is million kilometres. This is five times the distance between Earth and the Sun. Jupiter is not tilted on its axis as much as Earth or Mars. This causes it to have no seasons, for example summer or winter.

Jupiter rotates, or spins around very quickly. Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet in the Solar System. Jupiter is the third brightest object in the night sky, after the Moon and Venus. The first person known to really study the planet was Galileo Galilei in No new moons were discovered for more than two hundred years.

Jupiter - The New York Times

In , astronomer E. E Barnard found a new moon using his observatory in California. He called the moon Amalthea. It was the first time people saw a collision between two Solar System objects. Seven spacecraft have flown past Jupiter since The Pioneer missions were the first spacecraft to take close up pictures of Jupiter and its moons. Five years later, the two Voyager spacecraft discovered over 20 new moons. They captured photo evidence of lightning on the night side of Jupiter. The Ulysses probe was sent to study the Sun.

It only went to Jupiter after it had finished its main mission.

The formation of Jupiter’s diluted core by a giant impact

Ulysses had no cameras so it took no photographs. In , the Cassini spacecraft, on its way to Saturn , took some very good, very clear pictures of the planet. Cassini also found a moon and took a picture of it but it was too far away to show the details. The Galileo mission in was the first spacecraft to go into orbit around Jupiter.

It flew around the planet for seven years and studied the four biggest moons. It launched a probe into the planet to get information about Jupiter's atmosphere. They did this so that the craft could not crash into Europa , a moon which scientists think might have life. It was launched on August 5, Jupiter has 79 known moons. The four largest were seen by Galileo with his primitive telescope, and nine more can be seen from Earth with modern telescopes. The rest of the moons have been identified by spacecraft. The largest, Ganymede , has a diameter of 5, kilometres.

It is bigger than the planet Mercury. Because of the way they orbit Jupiter, gravity affects three of these moons greatly. The friction caused by the gravity of Europa and Ganymede pulling on Io makes it the most volcanic object in the Solar System. It has over volcanoes, more than three times as many as Earth. Jupiter's large gravity has had a big effect on the Solar System.

Jupiter protects the inner planets from comets by pulling them towards itself. Because of this, Jupiter has the most comet impacts in the Solar System. Two groups of asteroids , called Trojan asteroids , have settled into Jupiter's orbit round the Sun. One group is called the Trojans and the other group is called the Greeks. They go around the Sun at the same time as Jupiter.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Jupiter disambiguation. Full-disc view in natural color in April [a]. Semi-major axis. Orbital period. Synodic period. Average orbital speed. Mean anomaly. Equatorial radius. Polar radius. Surface area. Mean density.

Surface gravity. Moment of inertia factor. Escape velocity. Sidereal rotation period. Axial tilt.