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Jupiter: Kids
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Jupiter - King of the Planets

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Jupiter is the fifth planet from our Sun. It is named for the king of ancient Roman gods. It is the biggest planet in our solar system. More than 1,300 Earths could fit inside.

This is not a nice place to visit. It is a giant ball of gas. There is nowhere to land. Any spacecraft - or person - passing through the colorful clouds gets crushed and melted. Remember how your head feels squeezed when you dive into the deep end of a pool? That is pressure. On Jupiter, the pressure is so strong it squishes gas into liquid. Jupiter's atmosphere can crush a metal spaceship like a paper cup.

Jupiter's stripes and swirls are cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water. Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth. This storm has lasted hundreds of years. Jupiter's atmosphere is poisonous. It is mostly hydrogen and helium. There is dangerous radiation, too. It gets very hot and very cold. Talk about bad weather.

Scientists think Jupiter's core may be a thick, super hot soup. It might be up to 50,000 degrees down there.

Jupiter has its own 'mini solar system' of 50 moons. Scientists are most interested in the Galilean satellites - the four largest moons discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Europa, may have an ocean under its frozen surface. Calisto's crater-pocked landscape may be the oldest in the solar system. Ganymede is the solar system's largest moon. It is bigger than Pluto and Mercury. And little Io has more volcanoes than anywhere else in the solar system.

Jupiter also has three rings, but they are very hard to see and not nearly as pretty as Saturn's.

Challenge Graphic
JUPITER CHALLENGE Find Jupiter in the night sky. You can see its four largest moons - the Galilean satellites - with 7x50 binoculars. The view with binoculars is about what Galileo Galilei saw when he first used a new thing called a telescope to study the sky in 1610.

Missions to Jupiter
Featured Mission: Juno
The Jupiter Polar Orbiter (Juno) will fly to Jupiter and orbit its polar regions to better understand the planet's gross size and other detailed characteristics.
More Missions to Jupiter
Past Missions
Go Figure!
Average distance (in miles) from Jupiter to the Sun. That's 778 million km.
Years it took the Galileo spacecraft to reach Jupiter.
Years it takes Jupiter to travel around our sun.
Number of Earths that could fit inside Jupiter.
Minutes NASA's Galileo probe survived before it was crushed by the intense pressure of Jupiter's atmosphere.
The number of rings around Jupiter.
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Last Updated: 25 Mar 2015