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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


This movie of changes in Jupiter's cloud patterns is from Voyager 2 acquired in the Violet filter around May 6, 1979. Credit: NASA/JPL.
This is a Voyager 1 image through the violet filter showing Jupiter with its satellite Io visible at lower left. Credit: NASA.
These images show the apparent edge (limb) of the planet Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL Galileo spacecraft.

"This movie [at right] records an eruptive event in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter over a period of 8 Jupiter days. Prior to the event, an undistinguished oval cloud mass cruised through the turbulent atmosphere. The eruption occurs over a very short time at the very center of the cloud. The white eruptive material is swirled about by the internal wind patterns of the cloud. As a result of the eruption, the cloud then becomes a type of feature seen elsewhere on Jupiter known as "spaghetti bowls.""[1]

"As Voyager 2 approached Jupiter in 1979, it took images of the planet at regular intervals. This sequence is made from 8 images taken once every Jupiter rotation period (about 10 hours). These images were acquired in the Violet filter around May 6, 1979. The spacecraft was about 50 million kilometers from Jupiter at that time."[1]

At left is a "Voyager 1 image showing Jupiter with its satellite Io visible at lower left. Jupiter is 140,000 km in diameter and Io is 3600 km across. This image was taken with the narrow angle camera using the violet filter from a distance of 25 million km on 9 February 1979. North is at about 11:00 (Voyager 1, 15672.37)".[2]

"These images [at lower right] show the apparent edge (limb) of the planet Jupiter as seen through both the violet filter (top frame) and an infrared filter (756 nanometers, bottom frame) of the Solid State Imaging (CCD) system aboard NASA's Galileo spacecraft. North is to the top of the picture. A separate haze layer is clearly visible above the northern part of the limb."[3]

"This haze layer becomes less well defined to the south (bottom left). Such a detached haze layer has been seen previously on only one other body with a thick atmosphere: Saturn's satellite Titan. The haze layer cannot be lower in the atmosphere than a pressure of about 10 millibars (mbar), or about 40 kilometers (km) above the tropopause. (The tropopause, where the temperature stops decreasing with height, is at about 100 mbar, 20 km above the tops of the ammonia clouds.) There is some indication of streaks of slightly brighter and darker material running roughly north-south (parallel to the limb) on Jupiter's crescent."[3]

"The images, which show the limb between 60.5 degrees and 61.8 degrees North latitude (planetographic) and near 315 degrees West longitude, were obtained on December 20, 1996 Universal Time. The spacecraft was about 1,286,000 km (18.0 Jovian radii) from the limb of Jupiter and the resolution is about 13 kilometers per picture element."[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Image Processing Laboratory (6 April 2000). PIA02257: Voyager 2 Jupiter Eruption Movie. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA02257. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  2. Voyager 1 team (9 February 1979). Jupiter, Io - Voyager 1. Greenbelt, Maryland USA: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/object_page/vg1_1567237.html. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sue Lavoie (6 March 1998). PIA01195: Hazes near Jupiter's Limb (60 degrees North, 315 degrees West). Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/pia01195. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
Selected topic

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Selected astronomy

Planetary astronomy

These 12 images were taken between 2003 and 2015. Credit: Damian Peach.
Images in the visible-light and infrared parts of the spectrum highlight the massive changes roiling the atmosphere of Jupiter. Credit: A. Wesley, A. Kazemoto and C. Go, NASA/IRTF/JPL-Caltech/NAOJ.

"Jupiter takes 12 years to make one trip around the Sun. These 12 images [on top] were taken between 2003 and 2015. At far left we see Jupiter in 2003, and the years proceed counterclockwise. The 2015 view is immediately above 2003."[1]

"Jupiter’s axial tilt is just 3° or nearly straight up and down, so seasons don’t exist. One part of the Jovian year is much the same as another. Still, as you can plainly see, the solar system’s biggest planet has plenty of weather."[2]

"Just look at the Great Red Spot or GRS. Through about 2008, it’s relatively large and pale but suddenly darkens in 2010 at the same time the South Equatorial Cloud Belt (the wide stripe of clouds above the Spot) disappears. If you look closely at the Spot from year to year, you’ll see another big change — it’s shrinking! The GRS has been dwindling for several decades, but it’s amazing how obvious the difference is in only a dozen years."[2]

"The planet gives off 1.6 times as much energy as it get from the Sun."[2]

"Fun to think that the light we see from Jupiter is reflected sunlight, but if we could view it with heat-sensing, infrared eyes, it would glow like an ember."[2]

"Images [second down] in the visible-light and infrared parts of the spectrum highlight the massive changes roiling the atmosphere of Jupiter. In the visible-light images on the left that were obtained by amateur astronomers, Jupiter can be seen "losing" a brown-colored belt south of the equator called the South Equatorial Belt (SEB) from 2009 to 2010. This belt returned in 2011 and was still present in 2012. From 2011 to January 2012, a belt north of the equator known as the North Equatorial Belt (NEB) can be seen to be thinning out. In 2011, it whitened to an extent not seen in over a century. In March of 2012, after the last picture in this series was taken, the northern belt began to darken again."[3]

"Scientists compared the visible-light data to data obtained in infrared wavelengths (middle and right columns), which show progressively deeper levels in the Jovian atmosphere. The infrared images were obtained from NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, except for the 2011 image in the 8.7-micron wavelength (right column, third from the top), which was taken by the Subaru Telescope, also in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Those data showed a thickening of the deeper cloud decks in the northern belt during that time, and a partial thickening of the upper cloud deck. The South Equatorial Belt saw both levels of clouds thicken and then clear up. The infrared data also resolved brown elongated features in the whitened area of the North Equatorial Belt known as "brown barges" as distinct features and revealed them to be regions clearer of clouds and probably characterized by downwelling, dry air."[3]

"Also visible in the infrared observations are a series of blue-gray features that are the clearest and driest regions on the planet and show up as apparent hotspots in the infrared view because they reveal the radiation emerging from a very deep layer of Jupiter's atmosphere. Those hotspots disappeared from 2010 to 2011, but had reestablished themselves by June of this year, coincident with the whitening and re-darkening of the North Equatorial Belt."[3]


  1. Damian Peach (23 December 2015). Once Around The Sun With Jupiter. Universe Today. http://www.universetoday.com/121259/once-around-the-sun-with-jupiter/. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bob King (23 December 2015). Once Around The Sun With Jupiter. Universe Today. http://www.universetoday.com/121259/once-around-the-sun-with-jupiter/. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A. Wesley, A. Kazemoto and C. Go (March 2012). Global Upheaval at Jupiter. SWRI. https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/media-gallery/jupiter. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
Selected deity


Jupiter's head is crowned with laurel and ivy. Sardonyx cameo (Louvre). Credit: Jastrow.
Jupiter is in a wall painting from Pompeii, with eagle and globe. Credit: Olivierw.

A dominant line of scholarship has held that Rome lacked a body of myths in its earliest period, or that this original mythology has been irrecoverably obscured by the influence of the Greek narrative tradition.[1]

Jupiter is depicted as the twin of Juno in a statue at Praeneste that showed them nursed by Fortuna Primigenia.[2] An inscription that is also from Praeneste, however, says that Fortuna Primigenia was Jupiter's first-born child.[3] Jacqueline Champeaux sees this contradiction as the result of successive different cultural and religious phases, in which a wave of influence coming from the Hellenic world made Fortuna the daughter of Jupiter.[4] The childhood of Zeus is an important theme in Greek religion, art and literature, but there are only rare (or dubious) depictions of Jupiter as a child.[5]


  1. Hendrik Wagenvoort, "Characteristic Traits of Ancient Roman Religion," in Pietas: Selected Studies in Roman Religion (Brill, 1980), p. 241, ascribing the view that there was no early Roman mythology to Walter Friedrich Otto and his school.
  2. Described by Cicero, De divinatione 2.85, as cited by R. Joy Littlewood, "Fortune," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford University Press, 2010), vol. 1, p. 212.
  3. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL) 1.60, as cited by Littlewood, "Fortune," p. 212.
  4. J. Champeaux Fortuna. Le culte de la Fortune à Rome et dans le monde romain. I Fortuna dans la religion archaïque 1982 Rome: Publications de l'Ecole Française de Rome; as reviewed by John Scheid in Revue de l' histoire des religions 1986 203 1: pp. 67–68 (Comptes rendus).
  5. William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908), pp. 223–225.
Selected image

This image of Jupiter is a composite of three color images taken on Nov. 16, 2010, by NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IRTF.

"This image of Jupiter is a composite of three color images taken on Nov. 16, 2010, by NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility. The particles lofted by the initial outbreak are easily identified in green as high altitude particles at the upper right, with a second outbreak to the lower left."[1]

"Earlier this year, one of Jupiter’s stripes went missing. The Southern Equatorial Band started to get lighter and paler, and eventually disappeared. Now, follow-up images from both professional and amateur astronomers are showing some activity in the area of the SEB, and scientists now believe the vanished dark stripe is making a comeback."[1]

“The reason Jupiter seemed to ‘lose’ this band – camouflaging itself among the surrounding white bands – is that the usual downwelling winds that are dry and keep the region clear of clouds died down. One of the things we were looking for in the infrared was evidence that the darker material emerging to the west of the bright spot was actually the start of clearing in the cloud deck, and that is precisely what we saw.”[2]

"This white cloud deck is made up of white ammonia ice. When the white clouds float at a higher altitude, they obscure the missing brown material, which floats at a lower altitude. Every few decades or so, the South Equatorial Belt turns completely white for perhaps one to three years, an event that has puzzled scientists for decades. This extreme change in appearance has only been seen with the South Equatorial Belt, making it unique to Jupiter and the entire solar system."[1]

"The white band wasn’t the only change on the big, gaseous planet. At the same time, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot became a darker red color."[1]

"The color of the spot – a giant storm on Jupiter that is three times the size of Earth and a century or more old – will likely brighten a bit again as the South Equatorial Belt makes its comeback."[2]

"The South Equatorial Belt underwent a slight brightening, known as a “fade,” just as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was flying by on its way to Pluto in 2007. Then there was a rapid “revival” of its usual dark color three to four months later. The last full fade and revival was a double-header event, starting with a fade in 1989, revival in 1990, then another fade and revival in 1993. Similar fades and revivals have been captured visually and photographically back to the early 20th century, and they are likely to be a long-term phenomenon in Jupiter’s atmosphere."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Nancy Atkinson (24 December 2015). How Jupiter is Getting Its Belt Back. Universe Today. http://www.universetoday.com/79931/how-jupiter-is-getting-its-belt-back/. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Glenn Orton (24 December 2015). How Jupiter is Getting Its Belt Back. Universe Today. http://www.universetoday.com/79931/how-jupiter-is-getting-its-belt-back/. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
Selected meteor


NASA's Juno spacecraft was a little more than one Earth diameter from Jupiter when it captured this mind-bending, color-enhanced view of the planet's tumultuous atmosphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran.{{free media}}

"NASA's Juno spacecraft was a little more than one Earth diameter from Jupiter when it captured this mind-bending, color-enhanced view of the planet's tumultuous atmosphere."[1]

"Jupiter completely fills the image, with only a hint of the terminator (where daylight fades to night) in the upper right corner, and no visible limb (the curved edge of the planet)."[1]

"Juno took this image of colorful, turbulent clouds in Jupiter's northern hemisphere on Dec. 16, 2017 at 9:43 a.m. PST (12:43 p.m. EST) from 8,292 miles (13,345 kilometers) above the tops of Jupiter's clouds, at a latitude of 48.9 degrees."[1]

"The spatial scale in this image is 5.8 miles/pixel (9.3 kilometers/pixel)."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Scott Bolton (16 December 2017). PIA21973: High Above Jupiter's Clouds. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21973. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
Selected moon


This image of Callisto from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, taken in May 2001, is the only complete global color image of Callisto obtained by Galileo. Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR(German Aerospace Center).

Above is a complete global color image of Callisto.

This region of Callisto shows the transition from the inner part of an enormous impact basin, Asgard, to the outer surrounding plains. Credit: NASA/JPL.

"This fascinating region [in the image at the right] of Jupiter's icy moon, Callisto, shows the transition from the inner part of an enormous impact basin, Asgard, to the outer "surrounding plains." Small, bright, fine textured, closely spaced bumps appear throughout the inner part of the basin (top of image) and create a more fine textured appearance than that seen on many of the other inter-crater plains on Callisto. At low resolution, these icy bumps make Asgard's center brighter than the surrounding terrain. What caused the bumps to form is still unknown, but they are associated clearly with the impact that formed Asgard."[1]

"The ridge that cuts diagonally across the lower left corner is one of many giant concentric rings that extend for hundreds of kilometers outside Asgard's center. Exterior to the ring (lower left corner), Callisto's surface changes significantly. Still peppered with craters, the number of icy bumps decreases while their average size increases. The fine texture is not as visible in the middle of the image. One explanation is that material from raised features (such as the ridge) may slide down slope and cover small scale features. Such images of Callisto help us understand the dynamics of giant impacts into icy surfaces, and how the large structures change with time."[1]

"North is to the top of the picture. The image, centered at 27.1 degrees north latitude and 142.3 degrees west longitude, covers an area approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) by 90 kilometers (55 miles). The resolution is about 90 meters (295 feet) per picture element. The image was taken on September 17th, 1997 at a range of 9200 kilometers (5700 miles) by the Solid State Imaging (SSI) system on NASA's Galileo spacecraft during its tenth orbit of Jupiter."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sue Lavoie (October 13, 1998). PIA01629: Textured Terrain in Callisto's Asgard Basin. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA01629. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
Selected theory

Sun-Jupiter binary

The Sun-Jupiter binary may serve to establish an upper limit for interstellar cometary capture when three bodies are extremely unequal in mass, such as the Sun, Jupiter, and a third body (potential comet) at a large distance from the binary.[1] The basic problem with a capture scenario even from passage through “a cloud of some 10 million years, or from a medium enveloping the solar system, is the low relative velocity [~0.5 km s-1] required between the solar system and the cometary medium.”[2] The capture of interstellar comets by Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune together cause about as many captures as Jupiter alone.[2]

In a mechanism of chaos assisted capture (CAC), particles such as comets or those of sizes in the range of the irregular moons of Jupiter become entangled in chaotic layers which temporarily “extend the lifetimes of [these] particles within the Hill sphere, thereby providing the breathing space necessary for relatively weak dissipative forces (eg gas-drag) to effect permanent capture.”[3] These objects of the Sun-Jupiter binary system may localize near Jupiter and become satellites, specifically the irregular moons.[3]


  1. MJ Valtonen (February 1983). "On the capture of comets into the Solar System". The Observatory 103 (2): 1-4. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 M. J. Valtonen; K. A. Innanen (April 1982). "The capture of interstellar comets". The Astrophysical Journal 255 (4): 307-15. doi:10.1086/159830. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sergey A. Astakhov and David Farrelly (November 2004). "Capture and escape in the elliptic restricted three?body problem". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 354 (4): 971-9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.08280.x. http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0408271. Retrieved 2012-03-12.