Jupiter is the largest planet found in the solar system, with a radius of 71,492 kilometers. It is 11 times the size of Earth and 317 times its mass. In fact, it is twice as massive as all the other planets put together.
It is the fifth planet in the solar system, having a calculated distance of about 588,000,000 kilometers. This planet has a composition very similar to that of the sun. Mainly hydrogen 81% and helium 17% in addition to Methane, Water Vapor, Ammonia, Ethane, Phosphine and Hydrogen Sulfide in smaller proportions.
Jupiter is surrounded by fairly thick clouds that form lines of red, brown-yellow, and white colors, giving this planet an appearance as if it is surrounded by stripes or lines.
Among the most mentioned findings on this planet is a giant storm that has been going on for a few hundred million years, and is known as the red spot. The name was given to it because it is unleashed in intense red tones until it pales. This storm can have winds of up to 400km/h. The red spot is large, and can reach almost 3 times the volume of the earth.
Another characteristic of this planet is that it is inhabited by more than 60 moons, of which 53 have names. The largest moons inside Jupiter are Ganymede (GAN-i-meed), Callisto (kuh-LIS-toe), Io (eye-OH), and Europa (yur-O-puh). Also, it has several rings, made of dust, which are quite weak.
This planet has been known since ancient times. Around the year 1610 Galileo Galilei found the first moons, "Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto". Ganymede has been identified as the largest moon in the solar system above planets such as Mercury.
Jupiter spins pretty fast. Contrary to what we might think given its enormous size, a day on Jupiter is about 10 hours on Earth. So Jupiter has the shortest day in the solar system, while a year on Jupiter takes about 12 Earth years.
Jupiter rotates almost vertically and does not have as extreme seasons as other planets. This is because this planet has an orbital path around the Sun of only 3 degrees.
The chances of life on Jupiter are pretty remote. Among the reasons that support this hypothesis is the fact that the temperature, pressure, together with the materials that make up this planet are too extreme and volatile for organisms to adapt. Despite this, it might seem paradoxical that one of its moons "Europa" has been identified by scientists as one of the places with the highest probability of life within our solar system.
Curiosities and explorations to Jupiter.
The exploration missions to Jupiter have been diverse. Some of the spacecraft that have explored this planet are: Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Pioneer-Saturn, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Ulysses, Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons and Juno.
The first mission to Jupiter was made in 1972 with the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. This spacecraft would become the first spacecraft to cross the asteroid belt and fly past Jupiter. Subsequently, the Pioneer 11 mission was launched just 3 months later.
Also the Hubble telescope, has been one of the astronomical instruments used since 1979 to explore Jupiter.
The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts allowed to show volcanic activity on the surface of Jupiter, in addition different rings and moons were visualized.
Juno was launched to Jupiter on August 5, 2011.Its arrival was July 4, 2016. This mission was sent with the purpose of completing the first images of the polar regions of Jupiter and studying the enormous auroras that illuminate these poles. In addition to analyzing the deep structure and magnetosphere of the planet in search of clues about its origin and evolution. The chemistry, the atmosphere, the interior structure.
Each of the missions sent to explore this planet, allowed to study the atmosphere, moons and rings of Jupiter. In addition to providing a catalog of images of the giant planet.
For the missions that are scheduled for the future, they are found.
- JUpiterICyMoons Explorer (JUGO) - ESA JupiterOrbiter/Ganymede-Callisto-Europa MultipleFlybyMission. Which is scheduled for the year 2022. He plans to make multiple flybys of the satellites of Jupiter, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, and then enter orbit around Ganymede.
- Europa Clipper - NASA JupiterOrbiter / Europa MultipleFlybyMission, scheduled for the period 2023-2025.
These missions are focused on different areas. Where one of the main purposes of scientists is to emphasize the explorations of Ganymede as a planetary body and potential habitat. They will take care of:
- Characterize ocean layers.
- Detect surface water deposits.
- Make a topographical, geological and compositional mapping of the surface.
- Do a study of the physical properties of frozen crusts.
- Define the characteristics of the internal mass distribution, dynamics and evolution of the interiors.
- Explorations of the exosphere of Jupiter.
- Study the intrinsic magnetic field of Ganymede and its interactions with the Jovian magnetosphere.
In the specific case of Europe, interest is focused on the essential chemistry for the development of life. Where organic molecules are included, in addition to gaining an understanding of the formation of surface features and material composition without water ice. That is why this mission has been designed to enter an orbit around Jupiter that will allow multiple flybys of its moon Europa, where they will determine:
- The characteristics of the ice sheet and any groundwater, including its heterogeneity, oceanic properties, and the nature of surface-ice exchange-
- Analyze the habitability of Europa's ocean through composition and chemistry;
- Analyze surface features, including sites of recent or current activity, and characterize localities of high scientific interest.
There are many areas of exploration that remain to be explored on this planet. Which is completely understandable, if we consider the dimensions and characteristics of this planet.