The planet Jupiter is the fifth planet out from the Sun, and is two and a half times more massive than all the other planets in the solar system combined.
Jupiter is the giant of the Solar System, with a mass more than 300 times the mass of the Earth and is called after the ancient Roman sky-god, Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus.
Jupiter takes only 9 hours and 55 minutes to spin on its axis. This means a day on Jupiter is less than 10 hours long. Its fast rotation causes the planet to be squashed, being wider at the equator than from North to South.
Jupiter is the planet with the strongest pull of gravity in the Solar System. If we were able to stand on the surface of Jupiter, we would weigh three times as much as we would weigh on Earth. The only other object in the Solar System with a stronger pull of gravity is the Sun.
Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system.Jupiter’s moons are some times called the Jovian satellites, the largest of these are Ganymeade, Callisto, Io and Europa. Ganymeade measures 5,268 km across, making it larger than the planet Mercury.
There are 63 moons in total, four of which are large enough to be easily observed with a small telescope.
The first person to discover and observe Jupiter’s moons was Galileo (1564-1642).
Jupiter orbits the Sun once every 11.8 Earth years.From our point of view on Earth, it appears to move slowly in the sky, taking months to move from one constellation to another.
Jupiter has a very strong magnetic field. This is around 14 times stronger than the magnetic field found on Earth – the largest of any planet in the solar system.
Thick, colorful clouds of deadly poisonous gases surround Jupiter. The quick spinning of the planet whips up the atmosphere, creating the bands around the planet.
Jupiter has a liquid metal ocean (metallic hydrogen) at its center, surrounded by thousands of kilometers of hydrogen and helium gas.
Jupiter has a big red spot known as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.The red spot is a huge storm that has been
continuously going on Jupiter for over 350 years. Winds inside this storm reach speeds of about 435 km/h (270 mp/h).
Jupiter is the vacuum cleaner of the Solar System. It sucks in comets, asteroids and meteorites which could be on a collision course for Earth.
Eight spacecraft have visited Jupiter.Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses, and New Horizons missions. The Juno mission is its way to Jupiter and will arrive in July 2016.
The first recorded sighting of Jupiter were by the ancient Babylonians in around 7th or 8th BC.