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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 image of Thebe
Thebe (/ˈθb/ THEE-bee; Greek: Θήβη, translit. lang), also known as Jupiter XIV, is the fourth of Jupiter's moons by distance from the planet. It was discovered by Stephen P. Synnott in images from the Voyager 1 space probe taken on March 5, 1979, while orbiting around Jupiter. In 1983 it was officially named after the mythological nymph Thebe (Greek mythology).

Thebe orbits within the outer edge of the Thebe gossamer ring that is formed from dust ejected from its surface. Thebe is the second largest of the inner satellites of Jupiter. Thebe is irregularly shaped and reddish in colour, and is thought like Amalthea to consist of porous water ice with unknown amounts of other materials. Its surface features include large craters and high mountains—some of them are comparable to the size of the moon itself. Thebe was photographed in 1979 and 1980 by the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, and later, in more detail, by the Galileo orbiter in the 1990s.

Selected biography

Scott S. Sheppard is an astronomer in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Starting as a graduate student at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, he was credited with the discovery of many small moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. He has also discovered the second known Neptune Trojan, 2004 UP10 as well as several Kuiper Belt Objects, Centaurs, and Near Earth Asteroids.


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

Bold articles are featured.
Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or minor moons.

Selected picture

Jupiter and Io in stark greyscale taken by New Horizons on its flyby
Credit: NASA

Jupiter and Io in stark greyscale taken by New Horizons on its flyby

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