Jupiter, recognized by most as the largest known planet in our solar system, is a particularly interesting place. So interesting, in fact, that NASA sent a spacecraft called Juno there to study the world and its fascinating characteristics.
Jupiter is about as wide as 11 Earths side-by-side and contains double the mass of all the solar system’s other planets combined. While the solar system’s innermost planets are of the terrestrial variety, Jupiter is instead a gassy world, and some planetary scientists believe that it may not even sport a solid core as the Earth does.
Apart from its sheer size, one of Jupiter’s most distinguishable features is its Great Red Spot, a storm that has been raging in the planet’s atmosphere for centuries. Jupiter’s gaseous atmosphere is estimated to be around 44 miles thick, enveloping several other layers comprised of liquid hydrogen, metallic hydrogen, and perhaps even a liquid core of unknown composition.
Orbiting Jupiter are dozens of natural satellites, including Io, the solar system’s most volcanically active moon, Ganymede, the solar system’s largest moon, and Europa, a place that some scientists think could harbor a liquid ocean just underneath its fragile surface. Jupiter sports as many moons as it does because of its incredible gravitational influence on the solar system.
Being the oldest planet in the solar system, Jupiter harbors a wealth of information that planetary scientists can’t wait to mine with upcoming scientific missions. It should be interesting to see what it might teach us about the world we live in.