Jupiter - Known Facts

About Jupiter, what scientific facts are known including trivia about the orbit, surface, and more.


Known Facts: By terrestrial standards, Jupiter's physical and orbital characteristics are impressive. Jupiter is the largest of the nine planets that orbit the sun. With a mass 318 times as great as the earth's, this immense planet contains more matter than all of the other objects in the solar system combined, excluding the sun. Jupiter rotates on its axis more rapidly than any other planet. Though enormously massive, it has a remarkably low mean density, only 1.33 times that of water (about one fourth the density of the earth). The planet is shrouded in a poisonous and volatile atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, together with some ammonia and methane. Violent electrical storms spark within the belts and zones of turbulent clouds that parallel the Jovian equator. Circulating rapidly, the bands of clouds constantly change their shape and coloration.

With so large a mass and size, Jupiter also possesses strong gravitational and magnetic fields, which help make this planet the host of numerous satellites and a prodigious emitter of radio waves. Great radiation belts of highly energetic charged particles encircle Jupiter and make even the region nearby lethal to earthlings. The Pioneer 10 spacecraft found Jupiter's magnetic field to be about four gauss, more than 10 times that of the earth's field. The planet's intense gravitational field is two and one half times that of the earth, and Jupiter holds in orbit 14 known satellites, more satellites than any other planet. These satellites comprise a novel system that resembles somewhat the solar system itself, with a close inner system and distant outer system. One of Jupiter's inner satellites, Io, actually passes periodically through the most intense portions of the magnetosphere and modulates some of the planet's curious radio emissions.

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