1. A day on Jupiter goes by quick!
Jupiter has the shortest day of all the planets in the Solar System. It spins around on its axis once every 9 hr 55 min 29.69 sec. Jupiter has a small axial tilt of only 3.13 degrees, meaning it has little seasonal variation during its 11.86-year-long orbit of the Sun. The rapid rotation also flattens the planet slightly, giving it an oblate shape.
2. A GIANT ball of gas
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. It is approximately 143,000 kilometers (about 89,000 miles) wide at its equator. Jupiter is so large that all of the other planets in the solar system could fit inside it. Jupiter’s atmosphere is made up of mostly hydrogen gas and helium gas, just like the sun. In fact, If Jupiter had been about 80 times more massive, it would have become a star rather than a planet.
3. The Great Red Storm
Jupiter’s most famous features is the Great Red Spot. An enormous storm system, the Spot is approximately 12,400 miles long and 7,500 miles wide —large enough to engulf the Earth and Mars side by side.
Unlike hurricanes and cyclones on Earth, which come and go in a matter of days, this iconic oval has endured for centuries. The spot was first recorded in a drawing made in 1831 by German amateur astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe – and may have been churning long before that.
4. Jupiter has rings!
Jupiter has three thin rings. The rings were discovered in 1979 by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft and have also been observed by the Hubble Space Telescope and from Earth for the past 23 years. The rings are made up mostly of tiny dust particles.
5. That’s a lot of Moons
Four of Jupiter’s moons were among the first objects in the solar system ever discovered by means of a telescope. Galileo first saw the moons in 1610, now called the Galilean satellites. The planet now has 67 confirmed moons.
One of the more fascinating of Jupiter’s moon is called Europa. Slightly smaller than the Moon, it is primarily made of rock and most likely has an iron core with an atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Most planetary scientists believe that a layer of liquid water exists beneath Europa’s surface.
Jupiter also has the largest satellite in our solar system. Discovered by Galileo and Marius in 1610, Ganymede is larger than Mercury and Pluto. If it orbited the sun instead of orbiting Jupiter, it would easily be classified as a planet.
6. How old are you in Jupiter years?
It takes 12 Earth years for Jupiter to make one revolution around the sun, so a year on Jupiter is equal to 12 years on Earth.
7. Jupiter’s core is hotter than the Sun
The temperature in the clouds of Jupiter is about -145 degrees Celsius (-234 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature near the planet’s center is much, much hotter. The core temperature may be about 24,000 degrees Celsius (43,000 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s hotter than the surface of the sun!
8. Look up and say Hi
Jupiter is usually the fourth brightest object in the sky (after the Sun, the Moon and Venus).
9. Thank you, Jupiter
Jupiter’s overbearing gravity acts as a gravitational shield deflecting incoming space junk, mainly comets, away from the inner solar system where it strike Earth. Without Jupiter nearby, long-period comets would collide with our planet much more frequently.
10. Exploration of the Planet
NASA has sent eight spacecraft to Jupiter: Pioneer 10, Pioneer-Saturn, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Ulysses, Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons. (The Ulysses, Cassini and New Horizons missions flew by Jupiter on their way to planets and locations farther in the solar system.) A new spacecraft named Juno is on its way to Jupiter. NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched in August of 2011 and will arrive at Jupiter in July 2016.