What Is Jupiter?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,485
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains everything you need to know about the gas giant Jupiter.

    Emerald Robinson: Hi! I am Emerald Robinson. In this What Is Video we'll take a look at Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter is aptly named after the Roman king of the Gods; it's the fifth planet from the Sun and the first of the Gas Giant Outer Planets. Jupiter is a thousand times larger than the Earth; it's so large it has a mass two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the solar system combined.

    Due to its large mass, Jupiter's gravity is much greater than that of Earth's. If you weighed 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh about 240 pounds on Jupiter, if you could stand on gas.

    Only slightly denser than water, Jupiter is composed of 75% hydrogen and about 25% helium. This ball of gas has no surface, but it has a liquid center and small solid core.

    Jupiter has alternating bands of clouds that spin in opposite directions. Its white bands are known as zones, and its dark bands are known as belts. Jupiter has more than 60 known moons, some of which are as intriguing as Jupiter itself.

    Io is volcanically active; Europa might be able to harbor life; Callisto is potentially suitable for a human base; and Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system, bigger than both Mercury and Pluto.

    Like the other planets, Jupiter has an elliptical orbit that's an average of 483.

    5 million miles from the sun, and an average of 391 million miles from Earth. It takes Jupiter 12 Earth years to revolve around the Sun, but with the fastest rotation in the solar system, Jupiter's days zip by. A day on Jupiter is just 10 Earth hours long.

    One of the greatest mysteries of Jupiter is its great red spot. While we don't know precisely why it's red, we do know that it's a colossal storm that's been kicking up 300 mile per hour winds since it was first spotted over 400 years ago. No doubt Jupiter and its many moons will continue to provide us with enticing mysteries for many years to come.