GAS giant Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system — and the fifth most distant from the sun.
Here’s a guide to the megaplanet, including its size, moons, and the massive swirling storm known as the Great Red Spot.
The Great Red Spot is a giant storm on Jupiter that is larger than Earth[/caption]
How big is Jupiter?
Jupiter is by far the largest planet in our solar system.
In fact, it is 2.5 times the combined mass of all other planets combined.
Jupiter has 4 rows of rings made up of dust and small pieces of rock.
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Jupiter’s 4 rings are the Halo Ring, the Main Ring, the Amalthea Ring, and the Thebe Ring.
All the giant planets in our solar system all have rings around them.
However, most planets, like Jupiter, have rings that reflect light very poorly, making them very difficult to see.
How many moons does Jupiter have?
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Jupiter has 79 moons, 53 of which have a name and 26 have no name.
The planet can support so many moons because its size and mass give it gravitational stability.
This means that asteroids near Jupiter are either attracted and destroyed – or go into orbit.
Jupiter also has the strongest magnetic field of any planet in our solar system.
Also, Jupiter has some moons that orbit in the opposite direction to the others, and thus in the opposite direction to Jupiter’s rotation.
Some of Jupiter’s moons are tiny, about 2 km in diameter, like Pandea, Dia, and Ersa.
Many of these were only discovered in 2017 using high-tech terrestrial telescopes.
Others were found much earlier, such as Pasiphae in 1908 and Lysethea in 1938.
Ganymede is Jupiter’s largest moon. In fact, it is the largest satellite in our solar system – larger than Mercury and three-quarters the size of Mars.
It is the only moon in the solar system that has its own magnetic field. Ganymede is one of the Galilean satellites – the four largest moons of Jupiter – discovered by Galileo.
They were the first to be found and are also the most scientifically interesting.
Ganymede is as big as Mercury, but only half as dense.
It is the most volcanically active body in our solar system and the only one other than Earth.
The moon Europa is one of the brightest in our solar system.
Its surface consists almost entirely of water and ice, and it is thought to be the most likely planet next to Earth on which life can exist.
Callisto is the most cratered object in our solar system.
What color is Jupiter?
Jupiter is orange-yellow in color but mainly reflects blue and white rays of the spectrum.
Jupiter’s outer atmosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and helium, with some water droplets, ice crystals, and ammonia crystals.
When these elements form clouds, they create whites, oranges, browns, and reds, the colors of Jupiter.
The entire planet is mostly made up of gases, hence it is called a “gas giant”.
What is Jupiter’s red spot?
Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is a massive storm.
In fact, it is the largest storm in the solar system.
It measures about 10,160 miles across – about 1.3 times the diameter of Earth.
Winds on the edge of the cyclone will peak at around 268 miles per hour – faster than the fastest wind speed on Earth on record (253 miles per hour).
How far is Jupiter from Earth?
NASA astronomers found that it takes an average of six years to reach Jupiter from Earth.
However, Jupiter and Earth are constantly moving in space, so the distance is constantly changing.
When it is closest to us in its orbit, Jupiter is about 365 million miles away.
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And when it’s furthest from us, Jupiter is 601 million miles away.
The last time scientists sent a spacecraft to Jupiter was in 1989.
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