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The Jupiter Portal


Astronomical symbol of Jupiter

Voyager 1 Image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot in False Color.jpg
Voyager 1 Jupiter Io Europa.jpg

Jupiter 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 or outer planets. 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. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of −2.94, making it on average the third-brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. (Mars can briefly match Jupiter's brightness at certain points in its orbit.)

Jupiter voy1.jpg

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. 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 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 the moon Europa.

Selected article

An artist's concept of Juno at Jupiter
Juno is a NASA New Frontiers mission to the planet Jupiter. It was originally proposed at a cost of approximately US$700 million (FY03) for a June 2009 launch. NASA budgetary restrictions resulted in Juno being re-scheduled to an August 2011 launch. The Atlas V rocket has been chosen to launch Juno in the Atlas V-551 configuration.

The spacecraft will be placed in a polar orbit to study the planet's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. Juno will also search for clues about how Jupiter formed, including whether the planet has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, and how the mass is distributed within the planet. Juno will also study Jupiter's deep winds, which can reach speeds of 600 km/h.

Selected biography

Ouyang Ziyuan (Chinese: 欧阳自远; pinyin: Ōuyáng Zìyuǎn) , born in 1935, Ji'an, Jiangxi Province, People's Republic of China, is a cosmochemist and geochemist, Research professor, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

With a degree in geology and a doctorate in mineral deposits and geochemistry, he spent many years in deep mines. He later studied nuclear physics and worked in a particle accelerator laboratory. Thus, he put forward the hypothesis of formation of iron meteorites, evolution model of forming Jilin meteorites and theory of multi-stage cosmic ray radiation history. His works include Celestial Chemistry, and he published more than 160 treatises. He was elected a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1991. As one of the most prominent Chinese experts in geological research on underground nuclear test and extraterrestrial materials, he was naturally the first to advocate not only the exploitation of the known huge lunar reserves of metals such as iron, but also the mining of lunar helium-3 as an ideal fuel for nuclear fusion power plants.


Jupiter Atmosphere ˑ Exploration (Voyager 2) ˑ Rings

Major Moons ˑ Io ˑ Europa ˑ Ganymede ˑ Callisto

Astronomers: Galileo Galilei ˑ Gan De ˑ Gerard Kuiper ˑ Giovanni Domenico Cassini

See Also: Formation and evolution of the Solar System ˑ Gas Giant ˑ Nebular hypothesis

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Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or minor moons.



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