On August 5th, 2011, on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA launched the space probe Juno into orbit. Its’ mission was to reach Jupiter by July 4th, 2016 and is currently in a polar orbit to study Jupiter’s composition, among many other scientific goodies.
It was launched as part of a program called the New Frontiers. The purpose of the program is so that NASA can study several different Solar System bodies, including everyone’s favorite tiny planet, Pluto.
What has made this exploration so exciting is that Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System but there isn’t a lot of other confirmed data to match. So we have studied from what scientists have calculated based on many factors but not one of them was as concrete as what they are now obtaining from Juno.
This is the most historic mission in NASA history, even more than landing on the moon. But since it isn’t that sexy or even that interesting to people outside of the NASA phone book, we did a little research of our own so that we could break it down for you.
In other words, here is the stuff you should know about this thing that will make you even more impressive to the smarter ladies at the bar.
10. Magnetosphere, What is it?
A magnetosphere is a magnetic field that surrounds an astronomical body, in this case, Jupiter. For comparisons, the magnetosphere around Jupiter is the biggest object in the solar system and is easily 20 times stronger than Earth’s.
9. The Moons of Jupiter
Earth has one moon, that giant grey thing that we landed on back in the 1960’s, remember? Jupiter, on the other hand, has 67. The first ones were discovered back in 1610 when Galileo and Simon Marius discovered them independently. Since they were the first to discover them, it is only natural that the largest moons are named after Galileo himself, the Four Galilean Moons. There are more moons orbiting Jupiter than any other planet in our Solar System.
8. Largest Liquid Hydrogen Ocean Ever Known
Being the largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter takes a very long time to orbit the sun. It takes about 12 years on Earth for the planet of Jupiter to complete a full orbit around the large shiny ball of gas we call the sun. It is the easiest planet to find in the night’s sky as it barely moves between constellation’s fairly quickly. In fact, it takes months before it reaches a different constellation.
5. 10-Hour Days
Although Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System, and the fourth slowest to orbit the sun, it is one of the fastest turning planets. If compared to Earth, it only takes 10 hours on Earth for Jupiter to completely rotate on its axis. Beleive it or not, the huge planet spinning so quickly causes the equator to bulge out.
4. The Great Red Spot
Hurricane Katrina would be nothing more than a sprinkle compared to the Great Red Spot, a massive storm that has been located in the skies of Jupiter for nearly 400 years. The winds from the storm gust at 400 mph and it is three times larger than planet Earth. That would be a storm that would reach every inch of the globe and it would last for generations. Imagine an Earth where you can’t enjoy the beach because the wind has blown them away?
3. Deadly and Poisonous Gases Protect the Planet, Sort of
The gases created behind Jupiter’s massive magnetic field and speedy rotation has turned the planet into a protected one that sits safely underneath all the gravitational pulling and deathly gas. It has taken this long for NASA scientists to get close to Jupiter simply because the technology to penetrate the gases didn’t exist.
2. Actual Size of Jupiter
If we are talking diameter of Jupiter, meaning the length from one end to the other, it would take 11.2 Earths to cover the size of the planet. Now, to fill it up and discuss the size of Jupiter as a whole, it would take an amazing 1,321.3 Earths to completely fill the inside of the planet. If that wasn’t enough to give you an idea of how big it is, you should draw it on a piece of paper, to scale. Than you will see the difference.
1. Can You Live There?
Credit: BSIP UIG/Getty Images
As of today, no. There is still no information that can provide enough evidence that underneath all the hydrogen gas and liquid metallic hydrogen lies a solid surface that can be inhabitable one day. If Juno can penetrate the outer gas clouds and reach the planet’s core, we will be able to answer the question but it is safe to say that even if there is a solid mass underneath all the dangerous gases, ice cold shade, ten hour days, and 12 year long years, humans will not be able to live there anytime soon. Even if NASA sends a spacecraft of humans to Jupiter, and they safely land on this potential surface, the gravity on the planet is so strong that leaving the planet would require a rocket going nearly 135,000 mph. (To leave Earth, you only need to reach 25,031 mph.)