Jupiter has a long history of surprising scientists. All the way back to 1610 when Galileo Galilei found the first moons beyond Earth. That discovery changed the way we see the universe.

Fifth in line from the Sun, Jupiter is, by far, the largest planet in the solar system. More than twice as massive as all the other planets combined.

Jupiter’s familiar stripes and swirls are actually cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water, floating in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years.

This planet is surrounded by dozens of moons. Jupiter also has several rings, but unlike the famous rings of Saturn, Jupiter’s rings are very faint and made of dust, not ice.

Jupiter, being the biggest planet, gets its name from the king of the ancient Roman gods.

Read out history of Jupiter, its scientific facts by Pritish Halder below:

Labeled Image of Jupiter

Size and Distance

With a radius of 43,440.7 miles, Jupiter is 11 times wider than Earth. If Earth were the size of a nickel, Jupiter would be about as big as a basketball.

From an average distance of 484 million miles (778 million kilometers), Jupiter is 5.2 astronomical units away from the Sun. One astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the Sun to Earth. From this distance, it takes Sunlight 43 minutes to travel from the Sun to Jupiter.

Orbit and Rotation

Jupiter has the shortest day in the solar system. One day on Jupiter takes only about 10 hours. It makes a complete orbit around the Sun (a year in Jovian time) in about 12 Earth years .

Its equator is tilted with respect to its orbital path around the Sun by just 3 degrees. This means Jupiter spins nearly upright and does not have seasons as extreme as other planets do.

Moons and rings

With four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter forms a kind of miniature solar system. Jupiter has 53 confirmed moons and 26 provisional moons awaiting confirmation of discovery. Moons are named after they are confirmed.

Jupiter’s four largest moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These were first observed by the astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610 using an early version of the telescope. These four moons are known today as the Galilean satellites. They’re some of the most fascinating destinations in our solar system. Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system (even bigger than the planet Mercury). Callisto’s very few small craters indicate a small degree of current surface activity. A liquid-water ocean with the ingredients for life may lie beneath the frozen crust of Europa.

Discovered in 1979 by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, Jupiter’s rings were a surprise, as they are composed of small, dark particles and are difficult to see except when backlit by the Sun. Data from the Galileo spacecraft indicate that Jupiter’s ring system may be formed by dust kicked up as interplanetary meteoroids smash into the giant planet’s small innermost moons.

Formation, Structure and Surface

Jupiter took shape when the rest of the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago. When gravity pulled swirling gas and dust in to become this gas giant. Jupiter took most of the mass left over after the formation of the Sun, ending up with more than twice the combined material of the other bodies in the solar system. In fact, Jupiter has the same ingredients as a star, but it did not grow massive enough to ignite.

About 4 billion years ago, Jupiter settled into its current position in the outer solar system. Where it is the fifth planet from the Sun.

The composition of Jupiter is similar to that of the Sun – mostly hydrogen and helium. Deep in the atmosphere, pressure and temperature increase, compressing the hydrogen gas into a liquid. This gives Jupiter the largest ocean in the solar system – an ocean made of hydrogen instead of water. Scientists think that, at depths perhaps halfway to the planet’s center, the pressure becomes so great that electrons are squeezed off the hydrogen atoms, making the liquid electrically conducting like metal.

Jupiter’s fast rotation is thought to drive electrical currents in this region, generating the planet’s powerful magnetic field. It is still unclear if deeper down. Jupiter has a central core of solid material or if it may be a thick, super-hot and dense soup. It could be up to 90,032 degrees Fahrenheit (50,000 degrees Celsius) down there, made mostly of iron and silicate minerals (similar to quartz).

As a gas giant, Jupiter doesn’t have a true surface. This planet is mostly swirling gases and liquids.

Click here for more information about atmosphere and potential for life on Jupiter.