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Cloud bands are clearly visible on Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS.

Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System and contains nearly 3/4 of all planetary matter.

With no solid surface, Jupiter is a gas and liquid filled giant. Its turbulent belts of clouds circulate parallel to the equator and often contain oval spots which are storm systems with the largest being easily twice the diameter of Earth. The great red spot has been observed for at least 300 years and rotates counter-clockwise with wind speeds of 270 miles per hour [430 km/hr].

Although observed and studied from Earth for centuries it wasn't until the mid 1970's that humans were able to get a closer look with the spacecraft Pioneer 10 and 11. The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched with the specific purpose of collecting information and data on the Jovian worlds. In December 1995 the Galileo spacecraft entered into orbit and began it's long-term study of Jupiter and it's moons, a probe was also sent deep into the atmosphere of the gas giant.

Selected radiation astronomy


A Hubble picture from June 7, 2010, reveals a slightly higher altitude layer of white ammonia ice crystal clouds that appears to obscure the deeper, darker belt clouds of the SEB. Credit: NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (University of Califoria, Berkeley), H.B. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), A.A. Simon-Miller (Goddard Space Flight Center), and the Jupiter Impact Science Team.{{free media}}
This Hubble picture, taken on 23 July 2009, is the first full-disc, natural-colour image of Jupiter made with Hubble's new camera, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Credit: NASA, ESA, Michael Wong (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD), H. B. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO) and the Jupiter Impact Team.{{free media}}

"This Hubble picture [on the left], taken on July 23, is the first full-disk natural-color image of Jupiter made with Hubble's new camera, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). It is the sharpest visible-light picture of Jupiter since the New Horizons spacecraft flew by that planet in 2007. Each pixel in this high-resolution image spans about 74 miles (119 km) in Jupiter's atmosphere. Jupiter was more than 370 million miles (600 million km) from Earth when the images were taken."[1]

"The dark smudge at bottom right is debris from a comet or asteroid that plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and disintegrated."[1]

"In addition to the fresh impact, the image reveals a spectacular variety of shapes in the swirling atmosphere of Jupiter. The planet is wrapped in bands of yellow, brown, and white clouds. These bands are produced by the atmosphere flowing in different directions at various latitudes. When these opposing flows interact, turbulence appears."[1]

"Such data complement the images taken from other telescopes and spacecraft by providing exquisite details of atmospheric phenomena. For example, the image suggests that dark "barges" – tracked by amateur astronomers on a nightly basis – may differ both in form and color from barge features identified by the Voyager spacecraft. (The Great Red Spot and the smaller Red Oval are both out of view on the other side of the planet.)"[1]

"This color image is a composite of three separate color exposures (red, blue, and green) made by WFC3. Additional processing was done to compensate for asynchronous imaging in the color filters and other effects."[1]

"A Hubble picture [on the right in ultraviolet and visible lighy] from June 7, 2010, reveals a slightly higher altitude layer of white ammonia ice crystal clouds that appears to obscure the deeper, darker belt clouds of the SEB. The team predicts that these clouds should clear out in a few months."[2]

"Hubble also resolved a string of dark spots farther south of the vanished belt. Based on past observations, the Hubble Jupiter team expects to see similar spots appear in the SEB, right before its white clouds clear out in a few months."[2]

"The giant stormy planet Jupiter has gone through a makeover, as seen in the image below, taken nearly 11 months earlier. Several months ago the dark Southern Equatorial Belt (SEB) vanished. The last time this happened was in the early 1970s, when we didn't have powerful enough telescopes to study the change in detail."[2]

"This natural color planet portrait was taken in visible light with Hubble's new Wide Field Camera 3."[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 M. Wong, H. B. Hammel, and the Jupiter Impact Team (23 July 2009). Collision Leaves Giant Jupiter Bruised. Baltimore, Maryland USA: Space Telescope Science Institute. Retrieved 18 June 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 M.H. Wong, H.B. Hammel, A.A. Simon-Miller, and the Jupiter Impact Science Team (7 June 2010). HST WFC3 Jupiter Image (June 7, 2010). Berkeley, California USA: University of Califoria. Retrieved 18 June 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Selected topic

Object astronomy

This false-color view of Jupiter was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. Credit: NASA, ESA, I. de Pater and M. Wong (University of California, Berkeley).

"[T]he ancients’ religions and mythology speak for their knowledge of Uranus; the dynasty of gods had Uranus followed by Saturn, and the latter by Jupiter."[1]

"This false-color view of Jupiter [on the right] was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. The red color traces high-altitude haze blankets in the polar regions, equatorial zone, the Great Red Spot, and a second red spot below and to the left of its larger cousin. The smaller red spot is approximately as wide as Earth."[2]

"NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is giving astronomers their most detailed view yet of a second red spot emerging on Jupiter. For the first time in history, astronomers have witnessed the birth of a new red spot on the giant planet, which is located half a billion miles away. The storm is roughly one-half the diameter of its bigger and legendary cousin, the Great Red Spot. Researchers suggest that the new spot may be related to a possible major climate change in Jupiter's atmosphere. These images were taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys on April 8 and 16, 2006."[2]


  1. Immanuel Velikovsky. Uranus. The Immanuel Velikovsky Archive. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  2. 2.0 2.1 I. de Pater and M. Wong (4 May 2006). Hubble Snaps Baby Pictures of Jupiter's "Red Spot Jr.". Baltimore, Maryland USA: HubbleSite. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
Selected astronomy

Water astronomy

Jupiter is imaged with the Stockholm Infrared Camera (SIRCA) in the H2O band. Credit: M. Gålfalk, G. Olofsson and H.-G. Florén, Nordic Observatory Telescope (NOT).

At center is a significant observation of Jupiter in the H2O band using the Stockholm Infrared Camera (SIRCA) on the Nordic Observatory Telescope (NOT).

The image clearly shows that water vapor is plentiful in the Jovian atmosphere.

Selected deity


Thor's Fight with the Giants (1872) by Mårten Eskil Winge.

Thor is associated with the planet Jupiter in Germanic paganism (Germanic mythology).[1]

In Norse mythology, largely recorded in Iceland from traditional material stemming from Scandinavia, numerous tales and information about Thor are provided. In these sources, Thor bears at least fifteen names, is the husband of the golden-haired goddess Sif, is the lover of the jötunn Járnsaxa, and is generally described as fierce eyed, red haired and red bearded.[2] With Sif, Thor fathered the goddess (and possible Valkyrie) Þrúðr; with Járnsaxa, he fathered Móði and Magni (Magni); with a mother whose name is not recorded, he fathered Móði and Magni (Móði), and he is the stepfather of the god Ullr. By way of Odin, Thor has numerous brothers, including Baldr. Thor has two servants, Þjálfi and Röskva Þjálfi and Röskva, rides in a cart or chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr Tanngrisn and Tanngnjóstr]] (that he eats and resurrects), and is ascribed three dwellings (Bilskirnir, Þrúðheimr, and Þrúðvangr). Thor wields the mountain-crushing hammer, Mjölnir, wears the belt Megingjörð and the iron gloves Járngreipr], and owns the staff Gríðarvölr. Thor's exploits, including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jörmungandr—and their foretold mutual deaths during the events of Ragnaröko—are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Old Norse Þórr, Old English ðunor, Old High German Donar, Old Saxon thunar, and Old Frisian thuner are cognates within the Germanic language branch, descending from the Proto-Germanic masculine noun *þunraz 'thunder'.[3]


  1. Falk, Michael (1999). "Astronomical Names for the Days of the Week". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 93: 122–33. doi:10.1016/j.newast.2003.07.002. 
  2. On the red beard and the use of "Redbeard" as an epithet for Thor, see Hilda Ellis Davidson (H.R. Ellis Davidson), Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, 1964, repr. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1990, ISBN 0-14-013627-4, p. 85, citing the Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta (Saga of Olaf Tryggvason) in Flateyjarbók, Saga of Erik the Red, and Flóamanna saga. The Prologue to the Prose Edda says ambiguously that "His hair is more beautiful than gold."
  3. Orel, Vladimir (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Brill Publishers. ISBN 9004128751.

External links

Selected image


This image shows Jupiter's south pole, as seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles.{{free media}}

Here is "Jupiter's south pole, as seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection."[1]


  1. Betsy Asher Hall and Gervasio Robles (25 May 2017). PIA21641: Southern Storms. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
Selected meteor

Blue astronomy

See Jovian clouds in striking shades of blue in this new view taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/ Seán Doran.{{free media}}

"The Juno spacecraft captured this image when the spacecraft was only 11,747 miles (18,906 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds — that’s roughly as far as the distance between New York City and Perth, Australia. The color-enhanced image, which captures a cloud system in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere, was taken on Oct. 24, 2017 at 10:24 a.m. PDT (1:24 p.m. EDT) when Juno was at a latitude of 57.57 degrees (nearly three-fifths of the way from Jupiter’s equator to its north pole) and performing its ninth close flyby of the gas giant planet."[1]

"The spatial scale in this image is 7.75 miles/pixel (12.5 kilometers/pixel)."[1]

"Because of the Juno-Jupiter-Sun angle when the spacecraft captured this image, the higher-altitude clouds can be seen casting shadows on their surroundings. The behavior is most easily observable in the whitest regions in the image, but also in a few isolated spots in both the bottom and right areas of the image."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran (30 November 2017). Jupiter Blues. Washington, DC USA: NASA. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
Selected moon


Himalia is seen by spacecraft Cassini. Credit: .

Mean orbit radius of Himalia around Jupiter is 11,460,000 km[1]

Period is 250.56 d (0.704 a)[1]

"Unfortunately the numeration of Jupiter's satellites is now in precisely the same confusion as that of Saturn's system was before the numbers were abandoned and names substituted. A similar course would seem to be advisable here; the designation V for the inner satellite [Amalthea] was tolerated for a time, as it was considered to be in a class by itself; but it has now got companions, so that this subterfuge disappears. The substitution of names for numerals is certainly more poetic."[2]

The moon was sometimes called Hestia, after the Hestia the Greek goddess, from 1955 to 1975.[3]

At a distance of about 11.5 million km from Jupiter, Himalia takes about 251 Earth days to complete one orbit.[4] It is the largest member of the Himalia group, the moons orbiting between 11.4 and 13 million kilometres from Jupiter at an inclination of about 27.5°.[5] The orbital elements are as of January 2000.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jacobson, R. A. (2000). "The orbits of outer Jovian satellites". Astronomical Journal 120 (5): 2679–2686. doi:10.1086/316817. https://trs.jpl.nasa.gov/bitstream/2014/15175/1/00-1187.pdf. 
  2. Crommelin, A. C. D. (March 10, 1905). "Provisional Elements of Jupiter's Satellite VI". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 65 (5): 524–527. doi:10.1093/mnras/65.5.524. 
  3. Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia; Katherine Haramundanis (1970). Introduction to Astronomy. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-478107-4.
  4. "Himalia". Solar System Exploration. NASA. December 5, 2017. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  5. Jewitt, David C.; Sheppard, Scott & Porco, Carolyn (2004). "Jupiter's Outer Satellites and Trojans". In Bagenal, F.; Dowling, T. E. & McKinnon, W. B. (eds.). Jupiter: The planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere (PDF). Cambridge University Press.
Selected theory

Planetary sciences

This is a schematic of Jupiter's magnetosphere and the components influenced by Io (near the center of the image). Credit: John Spencer.

The image at right represents "[t]he Jovian magnetosphere [magnetic field lines in blue], including the Io flux tube [in green], Jovian aurorae, the sodium cloud [in yellow], and sulfur torus [in red]."[1]

"Io may be considered to be a unipolar generator which develops an emf [electromotive force] of 7 x 105 volts across its radial diameter (as seen from a coordinate frame fixed to Jupiter)."[2]

"This voltage difference is transmitted along the magnetic flux tube which passes through Io. ... The current [in the flux tube] must be carried by keV electrons which are electrostatically accelerated at Io and at the top of Jupiter's ionosphere."[2]

"Io's high density (4.1 g cm-3) suggests a silicate composition. A reasonable guess for its electrical conductivity might be the conductivity of the Earth's upper mantle, 5 x 10-5 ohm-1 cm-1 (Bullard 1967)."[2]

As "a conducting body [transverses] a magnetic field [it] produces an induced electric field. ... The Jupiter-Io system ... operates as a unipolar inductor" ... Such unipolar inductors may be driven by electrical power, develop hotspots, and the "source of heating [may be] sufficient to account for the observed X-ray luminosity".[3]

"The electrical surroundings of Io provide another energy source which has been estimated to be comparable with that of the [gravitational] tides (7). A current of 5 x 106 A is ... shunted across flux tubes of the Jovian field by the presence of Io (7-9)."[4]

"[W]hen the currents [through Io] are large enough to cause ohmic heating ... currents ... contract down to narrow paths which can be kept hot, and along which the conductivity is high. Tidal heating [ensures] that the interior of Io has a very low eletrical resistance, causing a negligible extra amount of heat to be deposited by this current. ... [T]he outermost layers, kept cool by radiation into space [present] a large resistance and [result in] a concentration of the current into hotspots ... rock resistivity [and] contact resistance ... contribute to generate high temperatures on the surface. [These are the] conditions of electric arcs [that can produce] temperatures up to ionization levels ... several thousand kelvins".[4]

"[T]he outbursts ... seen [on the surface may also be] the result of the large current ... flowing in and out of the domain of Io ... Most current spots are likely to be volcanic calderas, either provided by tectonic events within Io or generated by the current heating itself. ... [A]s in any electric arc, very high temperatures are generated, and the locally evaporated materials ... are ... turned into gas hot enough to expand at a speed of 1 km/s."[4]


  1. John Spencer (November 2000). John Spencer's Astronomical Visualizations. Boulder, Colorado USA: University of Colorado. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Peter Goldreich and Donald Lynden-Bell (April 1969). "Io, a jovian unipolar inductor". The Astrophysical Journal 156 (04): 59-78. doi:10.1086/149947. 
  3. Kinwah Wu, Mark Cropper, Gavin Ramsay, and Kazuhiro Sekiguchi (March 2002). "An electrically powered binary star?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 321 (1): 221-7. doi:10.1046/j.1365-8711.2002.05190.x. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Thomas Gold (November 1979). "Electrical Origin of the Outbursts on Io". Science 206 (4422): 1071-3. doi:10.1126/science.206.4422.1071.