Jupiter: A Giant Gas Planet

Jupiter: A Giant Gas Planet

Our solar system includes 8 planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Suture, Uranus, and Neptune. For getting more information about solar systems you can see also Solar System: A General Introduction. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and the biggest planet in our solar system. Jupiter is known as the Master of Gods. There were several past missions launched for the study of Jupiter’s different aspects. Following is the list of pasts, current, and future plan missions to study the giant gas planet.

Past missions
YearMission nameAgency
1997CassiniNASA/ESA Mission to Saturn via Jupiter
1990UlyssesNASA/ESA Mission to study the solar wind via Jupiter
1989Galileo OrbiterNASA
1989Galileo ProbeNASA
1977Voyager 1 NASA Mission to Jupiter and Saturn
1977Voyager 2NASA Mission to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and beyond
1973Pioneer 11NASA
1972Pioneer 12NASA
Current Mission
YearMission nameDuration
2011Juno2016 – 2021

Expected Year of launchMission NameAgency
2022Jupiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE)ESA Jupiter Orbiter / Ganymede-Callisto-Europa Multiple Flyby Mission
2023 – 2025Europa Clipper NASA Jupiter Orbiter / Europa Multiple Flyby Mission

Jupiter’s big great red spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth. It is supposed that 11 earth could fit across Jupiter’s equator. Just imagine that earth is a grape so that Jupiter is like a basketball.

Approximately Jupiter takes 11.86 years for orbiting the sun (revolution) for completing one circle of orbit. Jupiter is the planet of our solar system which has the largest number of natural satellites the biggest one is Ganymede. The atmosphere of Jupiter is mostly like to make up of hydrogen and helium gases. The Voyager mission of NASA firstly discovered the rings of Jupiter in 1979. All the gas giant planets have the ring system in our solar system.

Studies say that the temperature near the core of the planet is very much hotter as compared with other solar system planets. It is near about 24,000 degrees Celsius (43,000 degrees Fahrenheit). That is much hotter than compared with the sun’s surface. Some of Jupiter’s moon has an ocean beneath their crusts that might support life in the future.

Atmospheric Characteristic of Jupiter

  • Jupiter has the largest atmosphere in our solar system
  • Jupiter’s atmosphere is mostly made of molecules of hydrogen and helium. Some of the small amounts of chemical molecules also found in Jupiter’s atmosphere such as methane, ammonia, sulfide, etc.
  • Scientists classified the layers of the atmosphere as troposphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere.
  • Each layer carries the characteristic of temperature gradients.
  • There are two large spots “Great Red spot” and Oval BA” which are in the colour of red. They round the anticyclonic pattern. The smaller spot looks white in colour.
  • The temperature of the clouds of Jupiter is about -145 degrees Celsius (- 234 Fahrenheit).

Moons of Jupiter

Till the present date scientists discovered more than 60+ moons, 53 named moons. The scientist thinks that Jupiter has 67 moons. Some have given official names and some are not. Most recently moons were discovered in 2011. The largest four moons of Jupiter are Ganymede(GAN-i-meed), Callisto (Kuh-LIS-toe), lo (eye-OH), and Europa (yur-O-puh).

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All these four moons are called by the name of Galilean satellites. The famous Italian astronomer Sir. Galileo Galilei discovered these 4 moons in late 1610.

Ganymede is the biggest one larger than the planet mercury and the ¾ of the size of mars. There is also an interesting fact about Ganymede is that the only natural satellite in the solar system which have its own magnetic field. The satellites of Ganymede and Callisto have many craters that appear to be made with ice and some rocky material.  

Lo is the natural satellite of Jupiter which has some active volcanoes. These active volcanoes produce gases containing sulfur. The yellow surface of the lo satellite is made by the sulfur from the eruption volcano.

Europa is another Galilean satellite system which the smallest in the system. Scientist thinks that the surface of Europa is mostly made up of water ice. Some of the studies said that Europa is to have twice of the water as much as earth.

Juno Mission Explore to Jupiter

  • Juno Jupiter’s exploring mission was designed by the Nasa space agency aims to explain the story of the formation and evolution of Jupiter. Juno has the new era technology of Long proven on a spinning spacecraft in an elliptical polar orbit. Juno is also studying the gravity, magnetic fields, atmosphere, and evolution of Jupiter. Juno’s mission is the second spacecraft which is designed under NASA’s New Frontiers program. The first one is the Pluto New Horizons mission, which is flown by the dwarf Planet in July 2015.
  • It was Jupiter’s wife, the goddess Juno, who was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature. The Juno spacecraft will also look beneath the clouds to see what the planet is up to, not seeking signs of misbehavior, but helping us to understand the planet’s structure and history.
  • Juno helps for identifying how much of the water content is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which can helpful for determining the planet formation theory.
  • Juno helps to the scientist community to study deep the planet’s structure.
  • It will help to study the magnetosphere of the planet near to poles especially the auroras – northern and southern light of the planet, which helps to learn the behavior of the magnetic field of the planet.
  • Juno also deeply studied the atmospheric composition, temperature, cloud motions, and other aspects of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
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The principal goal of Juno’s mission is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter.

Instruments carried by Juno Mission


-Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM)

-Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph

Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) – Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI)

Mission important Event Dates

Launch date – August 5, 2011

Deep space Maneuvers – August / September 2012

Earth flyby gravity assist – October 2013

Jupiter arrival and orbit insertion – July 4, 2016 Duration period of Mission – July 2016 to July 2021

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