It is common knowledge like you buy instagram subscribers that Jupiter is the largest planet of our solar system. It is found in all science books in every language possible, taught in the early years of grade school, and has video clips about it on YouTube.
The planet is more than just a massive piece of rock. It has a role in our solar system and there can be more information worth learning than just being an entry for trivia questions.
What Is A Solar System
The term ‘solar system’ refers to a small ‘community’ of celestial bodies composed of circular pieces of large rocks called ‘planets’ revolving a mid-life star called the ‘Sun’. As there are countless other stars across the universe, there are also countless solar systems that form around them.
Although it takes 80 Jupiter-size planets to equal the size of the Sun, it takes twice the size of the rest of the planets combined to equate the enormity of Jupiter. In comparison to Earth, it needs 1,300 similar-size planets or more to have the same volume as Jupiter.
Due to its size, the magnetic field it has is around 20,000 times that of Earth’s. It is strong enough to alter the flow of electricity way beyond the orbits of its furthest moon. The gravitational pull is also immensely powerful that it is even responsible for attracting the stray asteroids from the Asteroid Belt, located in between Jupiter and Mars.
Its atmosphere is composed of 90% Hydrogen and 10% Helium, all flammable gasses. Although it is the 5th planet from the sun, with a distance of 800 million kilometers, it remains warm due to its hot surface. Because of its turbulent environment, it produced its most recognizable feature – the Great Red Spot, which is a large storm where the eye is twice the Earth’s size.
The ‘rusty’ colors you’ve seen from Jupiter’s official photos are evidence of its harsh atmospheric conditions. The clouds are said to have traces of toxic elements swirling around. With those findings alone, it seems penetrating to the planet’s surface is an impossible task, for now.
Despite its massive size, Jupiter completes its rotation in its axis in just 11 hours. The fast rotation makes the planet’s equator bulge outwards while the poles flatten a little bit. However, its revolution around the sun takes 12 years to be completed.
Satellites And Rings
A more non-technical word for a planet’s satellite is ‘moon’. Jupiter has over 79 of them. Four of them are so massive that even Galileo Galilei discovered them at a time when telescopes were recently been invented. These moons have diverse properties and are being targeted by NASA as the ‘first base’ in exploring Jupiter more.
The rings are manifestations of the ‘dust-like’ objects that are accumulated due to the planet’s gravitational and magnetic force. Jupiter has 3 of them, although not as visible as that of its neighboring planet Saturn. A ripple in either one of them may be a sign that a comet or an asteroid has passed through.
Room For Exploration
So far, there have been 7 un-manned missions deployed for Jupiter. All of them contributed to most of the information we know, especially the planet’s magnetic and atmospheric properties. For now, only one mission is active to study Jupiter’s formation and the rest of the planets away from the solar system.
The name Jupiter comes from the Roman equivalence of the Greek god Zeus. The planet is given that mythical status because of its great size and mystery surrounding it. The atmospheric conditions may be an indication that no life can survive it, but the surface remains a wonder.
Studying Jupiter serves a great purpose in understanding our solar system even more. The planet is surrounded by intrigue, including the reason why it is situated in the middle of the solar system despite its massive size. Despite the mystery, we do know that our planet Earth is enjoying its safety thanks to Jupiter.