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The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter has a diameter of 88,536 miles. Amazingly, that is eleven times the size of the earth. Jupiters weight is more than twice of all the other planets put together and orbits the sun every 11.9 years. This huge planet is believed to be approximately 482 million miles from the sun. It was discovered by Galileo in 1610.
The planet Jupiter has crossed multi-colored bands which are caused by clouds constantly changing. The atmosphere is made up of mostly helium gas and hydrogen just like the sun. Traces of other chemicals in the clouds produce the colors seen in the bands. Jupiters clouds have one lasting feature which is the great red spot. This is caused by a spinning cloud that is large enough to encase an area as large as several earths. The core of Jupiter is believed to be iron silicate surrounded by liquid metallic hydrogen. The outer layer is liquid molecular hydrogen. The outer layer of the planet is believed to consist of water droplets, ice crystals, Ammonium hydrosulphide crystals, ammonia crystals and cloud tops. High velocity winds on Jupiters surface blow in opposite directions adjacent to the bands.
Several probes have been sent to study Jupiters sixteen moons and the clouds surround the planet. It was learned that Jupiter has a strong magnetic field that traps atomic particles forming intense Van Allen belts which contain enough radiation to kill a human being. One of the planets moons was discovered to have orange flows of sulphur and salt that seep onto the surface from active volcanoes. Another of Jupiters moons, Europa has long cracks splitting its surface and an icy crust. As the fifth planet from our sun, Jupiter is often the brightest star in the night sky even though it is only the fourth brightest object.
Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973. Today the Galileo, a space probe that was put in orbit around Jupiter is sending back data to our scientist. One interesting discover of this data is that the planet has much less water than expected. It is now believed that Jupiter has less water than our sun. In July of 1994 the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter with spectacular results that could be seen from earth even with small telescopes.