Planet Jupiter (the next planet from Mars outwards towards the outer space)

According to the above we should remember that Ceres and Pluto were disqualified among the planets and the red giant next to Mercury is our Sun.

According to the above we should remember that Ceres and Pluto were disqualified among the planets and the red giant next to Mercury is our Sun.

How does a planet qualify to be a planet?

In simple terms the body of mass must be in a stable orbit around its star. Its size must be bigger than our Moon. Note that Pluto is smaller than our Moon.

Distance from the Earth.

Jupiter is 588 million km from the Earth. It is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System.

It is a gas giant with a mass slightly less than one-thousandth of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined.

Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Together, these four planets are sometimes referred to as the Jovian planets (a large planet that is not primarily composed of rock or other solid matter).

The planet was known by astronomers of ancient times and was associated with the mythology and religious beliefs of many cultures. The Romans named the planet after the Roman god Jupiter.

It has 318 times the mass and more than 1,400 times the volume of Earth. Its enormous mass gives it nearly 2.5 times the gravity of Earth (measured at the top of Jupiter’s atmosphere), and it exerts strong effects on other members of the solar system. Jupiter has more than 60 moons.

Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium; it may also have a rocky core of heavier elements. Because of its rapid rotation, Jupiter’s shape is that of an oblate spheroid (it possesses a slight but noticeable bulge around the equator).

The outer atmosphere is visibly segregated into several bands at different latitudes, resulting in turbulence and storms along their interacting boundaries.

A prominent result is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century when it was first seen by telescope.

Surrounding the planet is a faint planetary ring system and a powerful magnetosphere (the area of space, around a planet, that is controlled by the planet’s magnetic field).

There are also at least 63 moons, including the four large moons called the Galilean moons that were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede, the largest of these moons, has a diameter greater than that of the planet Mercury.

Jupiter’s largest moon

Jupiter has been explored on several occasions by robotic spacecraft, most notably during the early Pioneer and Voyager flyby missions and later by the Galileo orbiter.

The most recent probe to visit Jupiter was the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft in late February 2007.

The probe used the gravity from Jupiter to increase its speed. Future targets for exploration in the Jovian system include the possible ice-covered liquid ocean on one of Jupiter’s moon called Europa.

Jupiter is perpetually covered with clouds composed of ammonia crystals and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide. The clouds are located in the tropopause (going upward from the surface, it is the point where air ceases to cool with height, and becomes almost completely dry) and are arranged into bands of different latitudes, known as tropical regions.

These are sub-divided into lighter-hued zones and darker belts. The interactions of these conflicting circulation patterns cause storms and turbulence.

Wind speeds of 100 m/s (360 km/h) are common on Jupiter zones. The zones have been observed to vary in width, color and intensity from year to year, but they have remained sufficiently stable for astronomers to give them identifying designations.

The cloud layer is only about 50 km deep, and consists of at least two decks of clouds: a thick lower deck and a thin clearer region. There may also be a thin layer of water clouds underlying the ammonia layer, as evidenced by flashes of lightning detected in the atmosphere of Jupiter.

(Water is a polar molecule that can carry a charge, so it is capable of creating the charge separation needed to produce lightning.)

These electrical discharges can be up to a thousand times as powerful as lightning on the Earth. The water clouds can form thunderstorms driven by the heat rising from the interior.



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