Space Facts

Jupiter Facts

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. It is made primarily of gases and is therefore known as a “gas giant”.

Jupiter Planet Profile

Equatorial Diameter:142,984 km
Polar Diameter:133,709 km
Mass:1.90 × 10^27 kg (318 Earths)
Moons:79 (Io, EuropaGanymedeCallisto)
Rings: 4
Orbit Distance:778,340,821 km (5.20 AU)
Orbit Period:4,333 days (11.9 years)
Effective Temperature: -148 °C
First Record: 7th or 8th century BC
Recorded By:Babylonian astronomers

Jupiter Diagrams

Jupiter size compared to Earth

Jupiter distance from the Sun and orbital eccentricity

Facts about Jupiter

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Situated 22° south of Jupiter’s equator, the Great Red Spot is a storm that has been raging for at least 186 years. In fact, upper estimates suggest that this red and turbulent storm could have been in existence for over three and a half centuries. A giant red spot was seen on Jupiter in the seventeenth century, when telescopes first started to be used. However, it is unknown whether this is the same red spot that we see today, or whether Jupiter has had many such storms that have come and gone as the centuries pass.

The red spot circulates anticlockwise and takes six (earth) days to rotate completely. Another mystery surrounding the red spot is what makes it red: scientists have come up with several theories (for instance, the presence of red organic compounds) but as yet nobody knows for certain. That will be a question for future astronomy!

Jupiter’s Atmosphere

Jupiter’s atmosphere is special because it is the solar system’s largest planetary atmosphere. It is made up of hydrogen and helium, in roughly the same proportions as are found in the sun. However, it also contains much smaller amounts of other space gases, such as ammonia, methane and water. 90% of the atmosphere of Jupiter – a huge proportion – is made of hydrogen. It would be impossible for humans to breathe in this atmosphere. So, if you are thinking of travelling to space to do some hands on astronomy research, you would have to wear a breathing suit when visiting this planet.