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Jupiter is one of the largest and most mysterious planets in our solar system. In fact, it is so unique—because of its size—that it doesn’t even actually orbit the sun. Yup, Jupiter is in fact so large that its gravity plays an important role in our solar system and its center of mass actually lies 1.07 solar radii from the middle of the sun — or 7% of a sun-radius above the sun’s surface.
Jupiter happens to have 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets in the solar system combined. Furthermore, Jupiter is so BIG that the center of gravity between the gas giant and our sun doesn’t reside inside the sun, but at a point in space just above the sun’s surface.
As explained by IFLScience, Jupiter is so MASSIVE, that its center of mass with the Sun, or barycenter, actually lies 1.07 solar radii from the middle of the sun — or 7% of a sun-radius above the sun’s surface. Both the Sun and Jupiter orbit around that point in space.
Jupiter—the fifth planet from the sun and largest one in our solar system and has the largest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System, spanning over 5,000 km (3,000 mi) in altitude.
The Gas Giant has 69 known natural satellites, and 53 of them are less than 10 kilometers in diameter and have only been discovered since 1975. Jupiter also features a faint planetary ring system.
The most prominent feature on Jupiter is without a doubt its mysterious Giant Red Spot— a persistent anticyclonic storm that is larger than Earth, located 22° south of the equator, known to us since at least 1831.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is in fact a massive storm large enough to be visible through Earth-based telescopes.
The storm rotates counterclockwise, with a period of about six days, and is so large that it can fit our planet within its massive boundaries. Experts believe the Great Red spot isn’t a temporary feature on Jupiter, its stable and may be a permanent feature of the plane, even though scientist have noticed a significant decrease in its size since the storm was discovered.
In other words, Jupiter is beyond awesome and we didn’t even know how beautiful the gas giant was until recently.
The best examples of Jupiter’s cosmic aesthetics were brought to us by the Juno spacecraft, the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear-powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003. Juno‘s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. It will also search for clues about how the planet formed. After its mission is complete the billion-dollar spacecraft will be intentionally deorbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Most beautiful and emotional space imagery you’ve ever seen
And while we could write more bout Jupiter, its magnificent storm, its mysterious characterizes and the spacecraft studying it, the best way to show off the Gas Giant is definitely with a set of jaw-dropping videos and images brought to you by Sean Doran and Gerald Eichstädt.
Here are some of the most amazing videos of Jupiter:
Image and vide credit:
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran