Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jupiter: Largest Planet in the Solar System

My other blogs are:
The Largest Planet in the Solar System
(and movie of clouds at bottom)

While it may be the fifth planet from our glorious Sun, Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. Having 2.528x earth's gravity, the gravity alone would crush even the strongest person, where a 150lbs. human would weigh  almost 380lbs. But there's no need to worry because going for a stroll on Jupiter isn't possible since it isn't's a gas giant, which is simply a planet that is made mostly of non-solid matter (such as gases) rather than out of rocks or ice or other more typical materials that most people think of. Jupiter is made primarily out of hydrogen and about one-quarter helium, which would make it more likely that landed objects would need to swim or hover rather than to walk on its surface like most planets that you might imagine landing on. Jupiter is also the #1 source of hydrogen that astronomers have found by far, which makes it astronomer's first pit stop for antimatter-powered star ships since hydrogen is easily found and easily used for fuels. If that day ever comes then we wouldn't have to go too far to find an easy fuel source to begin an interstellar voyage. But that day will never come.
As I've made clear in many of my other articles, size and mass do not always see eye-to-eye, since an object in space can be many times more massive yet be very small or tremendously large. Obviously having more mass means more gravity (usually) depending on the planetary makeup, yet Jupiter falls into this category where size and mass seem to contradict, since it is around 317.8 earth masses yet is about 120x bigger than earth, and it's gravity is only 2.528x earth's gravity. Imagine a human who is twice your size, wouldn't it seem logical to assume that the person is also twice your weight? Yes, but in outer space, size and mass and gravity sometimes seem like they don't add up correctly. Funny thing is, Jupiter is ~317% more massive than earth but has only ~2 1/2 times the gravity. And being 317 earth masses it might seem likely that it'd also be close to 300x bigger in size, yet it's size is 120x that of earth.
Don't get too hung up on mass/size/gravity since those are advanced topics in astronomy. Only those who are very interested will get the knack of those concepts. They do make sense, but the average person lives on earth and thinks in earthen ways since we all experience earth's gravity exactly the same, which affects time, weight, speed, friction, and many other things that we experience in our day-to-day lives but never really think of. On Jupiter, things would be very different. First off, the orbital period for Jupiter around the Sun is over 11.8 years, while earth's orbit is ~365.25 days. And for a rocket to leave the earth's gravitational pull (escape velocity) the rocket would have to travel 25,022.411 mph, but on Jupiter the escape velocity would be around 133,80.08 mph. Our best probes and rockets could not even travel 3.8x that speed in the vacuum of space, let alone under the tremendous gravitational pull from Jupiter.
Jupiter's rings are a little interesting but are too easy to understand to be worth writing much about. All of the clouds circulate clockwise but some seem to move counter clockwise around the boundaries due to hurricanes which play tricks on your eyes. The huge spot in the middle is a gargantuan hurricane as well! Below is a clip of Jupiter's gases floating around similar to how earth's winds move only far more complicated due to Jupiter's makeup. (Video is from Voyager 1 probe shot at a distance of 36,039,529 miles and the videos ends at a distance of 22,369,362 miles away).
Read my other articles! They are much better than this dry one!

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