Day 270. Fun Fact Friday: Jupiter

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun. It is about 484 million miles away from it, 5.2 AU. It is the largest and most massive planet in our solar system. After the sun formed, the majority of leftover material went to Jupiter. If all the other material in the solar system was combined, Jupiter would still have twice as much material in it, it’s just that large.

Jupiter is a gas-giant, which means it does not have a solid surface. Jupiter’s atmosphere is made of hydrogen and helium, this is similar to the sun (remember that the sun is 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium). As of now, we know of 50 moons that orbit around Jupiter and are waiting for another 17 to be confirmed. The four largest moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These were discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system. That’s pretty fitting since it’s orbiting the largest planet in the solar system, don’t you think?

Jupiter is the planet with the great red spot. This red spot is actually about the size of two or three Earths. The spot is really a storm that has been raging for hundreds of years. The storm is made of up swirling clouds. Because Jupiter spins so quickly (a day in Jupiter is only 10 Earth hours), the clouds surrounding the entire planet swirl, making the beautiful, colorful patterns we see in pictures. A year on Jupiter is a bit longer, however, it takes the planet 12 Earth years to make an orbit around the sun.

I got this information from NASA’s Solar System Exploration site.

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