Photo Courtesy of NASA
The largest planet
Jupiter, one planet in the Solar System and the fifth planet found from the Sun. Jupiter is in fact the biggest of all planets found in the Solar System of today. Jupiter is a huge planet and it is a gas giant planet also; though it doesn’t quite compare to the Sun, it certainly is more dangerous than many of the other planets out there.
Since this is a gas planet, it is similar to that of Neptune, Saturn and Uranus because they too are gas giant planets. Though, Jupiter is one of the four outer or Jovian Planets. Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are called the Jovian Planets because of their mass and because they are a gas giant. This has been a planet which has been around for many decades, if not hundreds of years. It certainly was discovered well before modern times.
In many cultures such as in Roman times, the Romans used to worship the god Jupiter and they named this planet after their god. It has been closely associated with a lot of different beliefs for religion as well as myths surrounding many of the world’s oldest secrets and myths. Though, it can be seen from the Earth and it will be one of the brightest objects in the sky. It can really only be seen at night but it is not as bright as the Moon and the Planet Venus.
Though, Mars can at some points, be as bright as Jupiter but it depends on where it is in the orbit stage. It certainly going to be one of the brightest planets out in the Solar System today and many people do look for this planet as night falls.
The Gas Giant
However, Jupiter is mostly made up of hydrogen gas but helium does also play a part of the planet. Helium however only makes up a small portion of Jupiter whereas the hydrogen really covers most of the planet. The planet is not really going to be able to have a good solid surface; it doesn’t and it can be difficult to explore also. It’s said that the core of the planet is rockier and is considerably heavier than what most other planets will be.
The gas giant does have a very quick rotation period which means that the shape of the planet is sort of odd. It’s an oblate spheroid which isn’t quite round but not quite a circle shape either, it’s something in between a circle and sphere. It does sort of have a large bulge near the equator which can often be seen which gives the planet a very odd looking shape.
However, the outer atmosphere of the planet is going to be split or segregated into different parts; and this is at different latitude heights. What this creates is a bigger turbulence problem as well as storms which cause a lot of problems along their interacting boundary. What these problems can create is the Great Red Spot which has been around for many, many years; since the 17th century, this giant storm has been in existence due to what is thought of to be because of the turbulence and storms forming around the planet.
The Great Red Spot was first seen in the 17th through a telescope but it could have been around for longer. There is nothing to say it hasn’t been there for longer but that was when it was first seen. Many have speculated that the Great Red Spot storm has been around for more than just the 17th century but it’s unknown for sure.
The Planetary Rings and Moons
Jupiter has a planetary ring system that surrounds the planet, however it also has a very strong and powerful magnetosphere. These rings are a very faint ring system but they can’t often be seen. Many people do not in fact know there is a planetary ring system surrounding the planet but it is a very important part of the planet.
The Planet Jupiter does have 67 different moons – there might actually be more but only 67 have been discovered so far. There are still many more explorers trying to find a new moon of Jupiter and add to the collection. However, of all known moons to date, it is the Galilean moons which are of the biggest. There are four of them and these are very big, bigger than most and they were the moons that were discovered by Galileo Galilei back in the year 1610. Though, the biggest moon of all, has to be the Ganymede Moon; this has a huge diameter which is bigger than Mercury the planet. That is a huge size for just one moon.
Jupiter has seen its fair share of explorations; though all of the explorations have been conducted by robotic spacecrafts. This means that no man has actually landed on the planet themselves and has allowed the robotic spacecraft to explore the planet. More often than not, it is the flyby missions that have explored the planet especially during some of the earliest missions by Voyager and Pioneer.
Though, the New Horizons spacecraft back in 2007, was on its way to Pluto when it explored part of the planet. Though, ingeniously the craft was able to gain more speed via the gravity of Jupiter and that which surrounded it. There have also been more future exploration targets set because explorers want to know more about the Jovian moons and how the system works. It is thought that there is a ice covered liquid ocean on Europa which is a moon in the Jovian range and people want to know if this is true or not. There is a big belief there is a liquid ocean on the Jupiter moon that has been iced over.
The Structure of Jupiter
Jupiter is thought to have a dense core; and it could have a mixture of different elements supporting the core with a liquid metallic hydrogen layer outlined with helium. It is also thought to have an outer layer which is hydrogen also; though this is a rough guess because the core isn’t very well known as yet. It may have been discovered many, many years ago but there are still a lot of areas to be covered and discovered also. For many, they think the core is rocky and exact details are hard to pick up because there is a lot of uncertainty.
There is speculation that the core has to be made up of either rock or ice; the reason why is because most believe the core needs to very big, big enough to be able to collect a huge amount of gasses such as helium and hydrogen. The atmosphere however on the planet’s surface is quite big. It does have the Solar System’s biggest planetary atmosphere and technically there is no surface. It’s difficult to describe because it have a very odd shaping, no one has actually reached the surface to see. It’s made up of gas which is dangerous and almost impossible to explore by man. This is a huge and exciting planet with so much unexplored also.