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The King of Planets

  • The King of Planets

    Jupiter is the first of the gas giants and the fifth planet from the Sun. It is the largest of all planets. In fact, more than a thousand Earths could fit inside it! Volcanic moon Io, one of the four largest moons, lies very close to Jupiter. There is a great deal of pressure on this small moon, since it is constantly being pulled by the gravity of Jupiter and the other large moons. This tug of war generates a lot of heat, so Io is covered with active volcanoes. Q How did Jupiter get its name? A The planet is named after the king of the Roman gods. It is indeed the king of the planets, not just because of its massive size, but also because it rotates the fastest. It is the fourth brightest object in the sky, after the Sun, the Moon and Venus. Q How many moons does Jupiter have? A Jupiter has more than 60 moons. Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian astronomer, saw the four largest moons of Jupiter in 1610. They were named Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. By the 1970s nine more moons were discovered and today we know of 63. Q What is the Great Red Spot? A Jupiter is a planet of storms. The biggest storm area is called the Great Red Spot. It has been raging for at least 340 years. It is so big that it can be seen from the Earth through a telescope. Q How many explorations have been made to Jupiter? A Many explorations have been made to the king of planets. Pioneer 11 took the first close-up images in 1974, studied the atmosphere and detected Jupiter’s magnetic field. Space probe Galileo, launched in 1989, orbited Jupiter. In 2000, the Cassini probe took the best ever photos. Planet spotter The Galileo space probe was the first to make an entire orbit around Jupiter. Giant ball of gas There are constant storms on Jupiter, during which the winds can roar five times faster than the fastest hurricane on Earth. Some of the big storms are seen here in brown. Great Red Spot Try these too… The Sun (10–11), The Planets (12–13), The Last Planets (18), The Moon (20–21), Comets and Asteroids (22–23), Scientific Revolution (150–151), Communication and Satellites (192–193)