The gas giant, Jupiter, is an extreme planet with turbulent weather, magnetic fields and mega storms. NASA sent Juno on a 4 year, 10 month, 28 day trip to expand on the data we knew of this spectacular planet. The Lockheed Martin Juno space probe left Earth atop the Atlas V (AV-029) using a Russian built RD-180 main engine (powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen) and 5 solid rocket boosters.
Launched August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, and entered Jupiter’d orbit July 5, 2016, traveling almost 2 billion miles. Juno, named after the goddess Juno who was able to peer through the clouds that her husband, the god Jupiter, used to hide his mischief, was carrying an elite array of instruments including:
Microwave Radiometer, Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper, Magnetometer, Gravity Science, Jovian Energetic Particle Detector Instrument, Radio and Plasma Wave Sensor and Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph. Jupiter is made up of mostly Hydrogen and Helium and has a mass 100 times greater than Earth. The temperature at the core is 41,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the surface of the Sun.
The photos are spectacular, some reminding me of the paintings of Van Gogh. The wind speeds reach 370 mph, inside the bands of storms, traveling in different directions. Twisting the planets gas into cyclones and reaching as far as 1800 miles in toward the surface.
The “Great Red Spot” storm on Jupiter has been going on for centuries now! The Sun is too far away to be the cause of these storms. Recent experiments have shown that heat from within is the cause. Jupiter has the largest magnetic field of any planet in our solar system.
Shiny metallic hydrogen makes up 50% of the planets mass and that super pressurized hydrogen forms a metallic bond. The planet has three poles, one north , south and at the equator causing our compasses to be useless here.
There are super auroras here also, some larger than Earth. Our Auroras are caused by ions being hurled toward our atmosphere but the Sun is too far away to be the culprit. IO, one of Jupiter’s moons, is the most volcanic body in our solar system and is responsible for the ions being hurled toward the planet.
Jupiter’s formation was about 46 billion years ago and may have been struck, head on, by another large mass causing a tremendous explosion. This caused a mixture of rock, metal and gas – kinda “fuzzy” core, as well as a large ice meteor storm bombarding a young Earth possibly responsible for our oceans and maybe life.
There are 79 known Moons of Jupiter, 63 of these are less than 6 miles in diameter. The following are the largest, the ones found and named by Simon Marius in 1610. He was in a dispute with Galileo Galilei over who discovered them first. Even though the Marius names stuck, they are referred to as the Galilean moons of Jupiter.
- Europa – smallest of the four largest – slightly smaller than our moon, made of silicate rock and has a water-ice crust
- Ganymede – Largest moon – 26% large than mercury, made of equal amounts of silicate rock and water
- Callisto – second largest moon – half rock and ices, possibly has a subsurface liquid ocean
- IO – third largest moon, has over 400 active volcanos