Exploration of Jupiter

The exploration of Jupiter has been conducted via close observations by automated spacecraft. It began with the arrival of Pioneer 10 into the Jovian system in 1973, and, as of 2014, has continued with seven further spacecraft missions. All of these missions were undertaken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and all but one have been flybys that take detailed observations without the probe landing or entering orbit.

These probes make Jupiter the most visited of the Solar System's outer planets as all missions to the outer Solar System have used Jupiter flybys to reduce fuel requirements and travel time. In July 2016, the next spacecraft, Juno, is scheduled to arrive and more missions to the Jovian system are under development. Sending a craft to Jupiter entails many technical difficulties, especially due to the probes' large fuel requirements and the effects of the planet's harsh radiation environment.

The first spacecraft to visit Jupiter was Pioneer 10 in 1973, followed a year later by Pioneer 11. Aside from taking the first close-up pictures of the planet, the probes discovered its magnetosphere and its largely fluid interior. The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes visited the planet in 1979, and studied its moons and the ring system, discovering the volcanic activity of Io and the presence of water ice on the surface of Europa. Ulysses further studied Jupiter's magnetosphere in 1992 and then again in 2000. The Cassini probe approached the planet in 2000 and took very detailed images of its atmosphere. The New Horizons spacecraft passed by Jupiter in 2007 and made improved measurements of its and its satellites' parameters.

The Galileo spacecraft is the only one to have entered orbit around Jupiter, arriving in 1995 and studying the planet until 2003. During this period Galileo gathered a large amount of information about the Jovian system, making close approaches to all of the four large Galilean moons and finding evidence for thin atmospheres on three of them, as well as the possibility of liquid water beneath their surfaces. It also discovered a magnetic field around Ganymede. As it approached Jupiter, it also witnessed the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. In December 1995, it sent an atmospheric probe into the Jovian atmosphere, so far the only craft to do so. JUICE is proposed to be launched in 2022. Read more ...

NASA's Juno Spacecraft

  Juno probe returns first in-orbit Jupiter photo   BBC - July 13, 2016
The American space agency's new Juno mission to Jupiter has returned its first imagery since going into orbit around the gas giant last week. The picture shows a sunlit portion of the planet, together with three of its big moons - Io, Europa and Ganymede. The fourth major satellite - Callisto - is out of view. Juno is currently moving away from Jupiter on a large arc, but will sweep back in during August, enabling its "JunoCam" to take even better images.

  NASA's solar powered Juno space probe arrives at giant planet   CNN - July 5, 2016
Really cool music and sound effects -- NASA says it has received a signal from 540 million miles across the solar system, confirming its Juno spacecraft has successfully started orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

  Juno probe enters into orbit around Jupiter   BBC - July 5, 2016
The US space agency has successfully put a new probe in orbit around Jupiter. The Juno satellite, which left Earth five years ago, had to fire a rocket engine to slow its approach to the planet and get caught by its gravity. A sequence of tones transmitted from the spacecraft confirmed the braking maneuver had gone as planned.

About Jupiter

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Together, these four planets are sometimes referred to as the Jovian or outer planets.

The planet was known by astronomers of ancient times and was associated with the mythology and religious beliefs of many cultures. The Romans named the planet after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of -2.94, making it on average the third-brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. (Mars can briefly match Jupiter's brightness at certain points in its orbit.)

Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium; it may also have a rocky core of heavier elements. Because of its rapid rotation, Jupiter's shape is that of an oblate spheroid (it possesses a slight but noticeable bulge around the equator). The outer atmosphere is visibly segregated into several bands at different latitudes, resulting in turbulence and storms along their interacting boundaries.

A prominent result is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century when it was first seen by telescope. Surrounding the planet is a faint planetary ring system and a powerful magnetosphere. There are also at least 66 moons, including the four large moons called the Galilean moons that were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede, the largest of these moons, has a diameter greater than that of the planet Mercury.

Jupiter has been explored on several occasions by robotic spacecraft, most notably during the early Pioneer and Voyager flyby missions and later by the Galileo orbiter. The most recent probe to visit Jupiter was the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft in late February 2007. The probe used the gravity from Jupiter to increase its speed. Future targets for exploration in the Jovian system include the possible ice-covered liquid ocean on the moon Europa.

Jupiter has been known since ancient times and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. In 1610, Galileo Galilei discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter using a telescope, the first observation of moons other than Earth's.

Jupiter is 2.5 times more massive than all the other planets combined, so massive that its barycenter with the Sun actually lies above the Sun's surface (1.068 solar radii from the Sun's center). It is 318 times more massive than Earth, with a diameter 11 times that of Earth, and with a volume 1300 times that of Earth. It has been termed by many a "failed star", even though the comparison would be akin to calling an asteroid "a failed Earth".

As impressive as it is, extrasolar planets have been discovered with much greater masses. However, it is thought to have about as large a diameter as a planet of its composition can, as adding extra mass would only result in further gravitational compression (until ignition occurs). There is no clear-cut definition of what distinguishes a large and massive planet such as Jupiter from a brown dwarf, although the latter possesses rather specific spectral lines, but in any case Jupiter would need to be about seventy times as massive if it were to become a star.

Jupiter also has the fastest rotation rate of any planet within the solar system, making a complete revolution on its axis in slightly less than ten hours, which results in a flattening easily seen through an Earth-based amateur telescope. Its best known feature is probably the Great Red Spot, a storm larger than Earth. The planet is perpetually covered with a layer of clouds.

Jupiter is usually the fourth brightest object in the sky (after the Sun, the Moon and Venus; however at times Mars appears brighter than Jupiter, while at others Jupiter appears brighter than Venus). It has been known since ancient times. Galileo Galilei's discovery, in 1610, of Jupiter's four large moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (now known as the Galilean moons) was the first discovery of a celestial motion not apparently centered on the Earth. It was a major point in favor of Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the motions of the planets; Galileo's outspoken support of the Copernican theory got him in trouble with the Inquisition.

Physical Characteristics and Atmosphere

Jupiter is composed of a relatively small rocky core, surrounded by metallic hydrogen, surrounded by liquid hydrogen, which is surrounded by gaseous hydrogen. There is no clear boundary or surface between these different phases of hydrogen; the conditions blend smoothly from gas to liquid as one descends.

The atmosphere contains trace amounts of methane, water vapour, ammonia, and "rock". There are also traces of carbon, ethane, hydrogen sulfide, neon, oxygen, phosphine, and sulfur. The outermost layer of the atmosphere contains crystals of frozen ammonia.This atmospheric composition is very close to the composition of the solar nebula. Saturn has a similar composition, but Uranus and Neptune have much less hydrogen and helium.

Jupiter's upper atmosphere undergoes differential rotation, an effect first noticed by Giovanni Cassini (1690). The rotation of Jupiter's polar atmosphere is ~5 minutes longer than that of the equatorial atmosphere. In addition, bands of clouds of different latitudes flow in opposing directions on the prevailing winds. The interactions of these conflicting circulation patterns cause storms and turbulence. Wind speeds of 600 km/h are not uncommon. A particularly violent storm, about three times Earth's diameter, is known as the Great Red Spot.

'Diamond rain' falls on Saturn and Jupiter   BBC - October 14, 2013

Diamonds that are the right size to have been worn by stars of the Silver Screen could rain down on Saturn and Jupiter, US scientists have calculated. New atmospheric data for the gas giants indicates that carbon is abundant in its dazzling crystal form, they say. Lightning storms turn methane into soot (carbon) which as it falls hardens into chunks of graphite and then diamond.

Fireballs Light Up Jupiter   Science Daily - September 11, 2010

Amateur astronomers working with professional astronomers have spotted two fireballs lighting up Jupiter's atmosphere this summer, marking the first time Earth-based telescopes have captured relatively small objects burning up in the atmosphere of the giant planet. The two fireballs -- which produced bright freckles on Jupiter that were visible through backyard telescopes -- occurred on June 3, 2010, and August 20, 2010, respectively.

Jupiter's New Impact Scar   NASA - July 23, 2009

In July of 1994 pieces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with planet Jupiter. Now there is another impact scar. Since 2006 two new red spots have also been discovered.

Baby Jupiter's huge weight gain   BBC - January 6, 2009
The planet Jupiter must have gained mass fast during its infancy, according to astronomers. It had to, because the material from which the planet formed disappeared in just a few million years. After studying other stars, the US team came to the conclusion that gas giants like Jupiter must grow rapidly.

Mystery Of Jupiter's Jets Uncovered Science Daily - January 25, 2008

At the end of March 2007, scientists all over the world observed with surprise and awe a rare change in the atmosphere of Jupiter. A giant perturbation occurred amongst its clouds and two extremely bright storms erupted in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere, where its most intense jet stream - reaching speeds of 600 kilometers per hour – resides. Research into these unusual storms (previous ones had been seen in 1975 and 1990) and the reaction of the jet to them, undertaken by an international team coordinated by Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, from the Higher Technical School of Engineering of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), gives a more precise idea about the origin of these current flows and likewise can help to gain a better understanding of terrestrial meteorology.

Lightning Strikes, Changing Climate Revealed on Jupiter National Geographic - October 9, 2007

Images sent back from New Horizons earlier this year show stormy features similar to Earth's, including lightning on both of Jupiter's poles. The images suggest the storms are caused by the heat from the planet itself, rather than the sun, and are maintained by circulation patterns that could be global in scale.

First Proof of Wet "Hot Jupiter" Outside Solar System National Geographic - July 11, 2007

A high-powered space telescope has caught what researchers are saying is the first clear sign of water on a planet outside our solar system. The planet, known as HD 189733b, is a gas giant similar to Jupiter. But this huge planet, which orbits a star about 63 light-years away, hugs its host much closer and broils at more than 1,300°F (700°C). This means that the planet's water is all in the form of superheated steam. Liquid water and thus life as we know it couldn't exist there. The new findings solve a puzzle that arose earlier this year, when two previous studies failed to find water of any form on these so-called hot Jupiters.

Hubble Watches As Jupiter Changes Stripes Space.com - June 29, 2007

Jupiter is wrapped in cloudy strips of yellows, browns and whites, created by winds at various latitudes blowing in different directions. Propelled by speedy winds, the clouds whip around the planet at hundreds of miles per hour. High elevation clouds reside in 'belt' regions of the Jovian atmosphere. Belt clouds are darker than those flying in the relatively low-elevation zone regions of the atmosphere. The winds in belts and zones flow in opposite directions.


Aurora on Jupiter. Three bright dots are created by magnetic flux tubes that connect to the Jovian moons Io (on the left), Ganymede and Europa on the bottom. In addition, the very bright almost circular region, called the main oval, and the fainter polar aurora can be seen.

Jupiter has a very large and powerful magnetosphere. In fact, if you could see Jupiter's magnetic field from Earth, it would appear five times as large as the full moon in the sky despite being so much farther away. This magnetic field collects a large flux of particle radiation in Jupiter's radiation belts, as well as producing a dramatic gas torus and flux tube associated with Io. Jupiter's magnetosphere is the largest planetary structure in the solar system.

The Pioneer probes confirmed the existence that Jupiter's enormous magnetic field is 10 times stronger than Earth's and contains 20,000 times as much energy. The sensitive instruments aboard found that the Jovian magnetic field's "north" magnetic pole is at the planet's geographic south pole, with the axis of the magnetic field tilted 11 degrees from the Jovian rotation axis and offset from the center of Jupiter in a manner similar to the axis of the Earth's field. The Pioneers measured the bow shock of the Jovian magnetosphere to the width of 26 million kilometres (16 million miles), with the magnetic tail extending beyond Saturn's orbit.

The data showed that the magnetic field fluctuates rapidly in size on the sunward side of Jupiter because of pressure variations in the solar wind, an effect studied in further detail by the two Voyager spacecraft. It was also discovered that streams of high-energy atomic particles are ejected from the Jovian magnetosphere and travel as far as the orbit of the Earth. Energetic protons were found and measured in the Jovian radiation belt and electric currents were detected flowing between Jupiter and some of its moons, particularly Io.

Spectacular aurora lights up Jupiter's North Pole   The Guardian - June 30, 2016

The image of the Northern Lights was taken ahead of the arrival of Nasa's spaceship Juno next week which will spend a year monitoring the largest planet in the Solar System. Jupiter is known for its colorful storms such as the Great Red Spot which swirls constantly in the planet's atmosphere. But it's powerful magnetic field also means it has spectacular light shows at its poles. Just like on Earth, auroras are created when high energy particles enter a planet's atmosphere near its magnetic poles and collide with atoms of gas.'

Auroras and the Magnetosphere of Jupiter   APOD - April 6, 2016

Jupiter has auroras. Like near the Earth, the magnetic field of our Solar System's largest planet compresses when impacted by a gust of charged particles from the Sun. This magnetic compression funnels charged particles towards Jupiter's poles and down into the atmosphere. There, electrons are temporarily excited or knocked away from atmospheric gases, after which, when de-exciting or recombining with atmospheric ions, auroral light is emitted. The featured illustration portrays the magnificent magnetosphere around Jupiter in action. In the inset image released last month, the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory shows unexpectedly powerful X-ray light emitted by Jovian auroras, depicted in false-colored purple. That Chandra inset is superposed over an optical image taken at a different time by the Hubble Space Telescope. This aurora on Jupiter was seen in October 2011, several days after the Sun emitted a powerful Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

Volcanic Moon Creates Glowing Aurora Spots on Jupiter National Geographic - March 20, 2008

Unexpected spots on Jupiter's poles could solve the decades-old mystery of what powers the gas giant's spectacular "hyper-auroras," according to a new study. Auroras were first spotted on Jupiter in 1979, and astronomers have known since the 1990s that the planet's polar light shows are hundreds of times more powerful than Earth's auroras with bands and curtains that can get as big as Earth itself

Big Auroras on Jupiter NASA - April 4, 2007

The purple ring traces Jupiter's X-ray auroras. Gladstone calls them "Northern Lights on steroids. They're hundreds of times more energetic than auroras on Earth."

The Great Red Spot

June 15, 2016

The Great Red Spot is an anticyclonic storm on the planet Jupiter, 22° south of the equator; which has lasted at least 300 years. The storm is large enough to be visible through Earth-based telescopes. It was first observed either by Cassini or Hooke around 1665.

This dramatic view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and its surroundings was obtained by Voyager 1 on February 25, 1979, when the spacecraft was 5.7 million miles (9.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. Cloud details as small as 100 miles (160 kilometers) across can be seen here. The colorful, wavy cloud pattern to the left of the Red Spot is a region of extraordinarily complex and variable wave motion. To give a sense of Jupiter's scale, the white oval storm directly below the Great Red Spot is approximately the same diameter as Earth.

Storms such as this are not uncommon within the atmospheres of gas giants. Jupiter also has white ovals and brown ovals, which are lesser unnamed storms. White ovals tend to consist of relatively cool clouds within the upper atmosphere. Brown ovals are warmer and located within the "normal cloud layer". Such storms can last hours or centuries.

It is not known exactly what causes the Great Red Spot's reddish color. Theories supported by laboratory experiments suppose that the color may be caused by any of "complex organic molecules, red phosphorus, or yet another sulfur compound", but a consensus has yet to be reached.

The Great Red Spot is remarkably stable, having first been spotted over 300 years ago. Several factors may be responsible for its longevity, such as the fact that it never encounters solid surfaces over which to dissipate its energy and that its motion is driven by Jupiter's internal heat. Simulations suggest that the Spot tends to absorb smaller atmospheric disturbances.

At the start of 2004, the Great Red Spot is approximately half as large as it was 100 years ago. It is not known how long the Great Red Spot will last, or whether this is a result of normal fluctuations.

The Great Red Spot should not be confused with the Great Dark Spot, famously seen in the atmosphere of Neptune by Voyager 2 in 1989. The Great Dark Spot was an atmospheric hole, not a storm, and was no longer present as of 1994 (although another, similar spot had appeared farther to the north).

On October 19, 2003 a black spot was photographed on Jupiter by Belgian astronomer Olivier Meeckers. Although not an unusual occurrence, this one caught the fantasy of some science fiction fans and conspiracy theorists, who went as far as speculating that the spot was evidence of nuclear activity on Jupiter, caused by Galileo's crash into the planet a month prior. Galileo carried about 15.6 kg of plutonium-238 as its power source, in the form of 144 pellets of plutonium dioxide, a ceramic. The individual pellets (which would be expected to separate during entry) initially contained about 108 grams of 238Pu each (about 10% would have decayed away by the time Galileo entered Jupiter), and are short of the required critical mass by a factor of about 100.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Shrinking Faster   NASA - May 18, 2014
Recorded as shrinking since the 1930s, the rate of the Great Red Spot's size appears to have accelerated just in the past few years. A hurricane larger than Earth, the Great Red Spot has been raging at least as long as telescopes could see it. Like most astronomical phenomena, the Great Red Spot was neither predicted nor immediately understood after its discovery. Although small eddies that feed into the storm system seem to play a role, a more full understanding of the gigantic storm cloud remains a topic of continued research, and may result in a better understanding of weather here on Earth. The above image is a digital enhancement of an image of Jupiter taken in 1979 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it zoomed by the Solar System's largest planet. NASA's Juno spacecraft is currently heading toward Jupiter and will arrive in 2016.

Secrets of Jupiter's Great Red Spot Revealed in New Weather Map   Space.com - March 16, 2010
New images have revealed an unprecedented look at the swirling winds inside Jupiter's famed Great Red Spot and allowed scientists to build the first-ever detailed weather map of the giant storm's insides. "This is our first detailed look inside the biggest storm of the solar system," said Glenn Orton of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the leader of the team that studied Jupiter's giant spot.

Jupiter Gains New Red Spot National Geographic - May 23, 2008
A new hot-hued storm spot churns away on Jupiter on May 9 and 10, when the Hubble Space Telescope took the images that were combined to create this picture, which was released yesterday. The "baby" storm is the gas giant's third red spot, after the Great Red Spot (at center-right) and Red Spot, Jr. (lower left). The new spot's size has not been announced. The Great Red Spot is roughly as wide as the entire Earth. Jupiter's newest "blemish" used to be a white oval-shaped storm but turned brick red as its clouds rose and reacted to solar UV radiation. Right now the as yet unnamed storm and the Great Red Spot are on a collision course.

Jupiter's Moons

There are 67 known moons of Jupiter. This gives Jupiter the largest number of moons with reasonably secure orbits of any planet in the Solar System. The most massive of them, the four Galilean moons, were discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and were the first objects found to orbit a body that was neither Earth nor the Sun. From the end of the 19th century, dozens of much smaller Jovian moons have been discovered and have received the names of lovers, conquests, or daughters of the Roman god Jupiter or his Greek equivalent Zeus. The Galilean moons are by far the largest and most massive objects in orbit around Jupiter, with the remaining 63 moons and the rings together comprising just 0.003% of the total orbiting mass.

Of Jupiter's moons, eight are regular satellites with prograde and nearly circular orbits that are not greatly inclined with respect to Jupiter's equatorial plane. The Galilean satellites are nearly spherical in shape due to having planetary mass, and so would be considered planets if they were in direct orbit around the Sun. The other four regular satellites are much smaller and closer to Jupiter; these serve as sources of the dust that makes up Jupiter's rings. The remainder of Jupiter's moons are irregular satellites whose prograde and retrograde orbits are much farther from Jupiter and have high inclinations and eccentricities. These moons were probably captured by Jupiter from solar orbits. 16 irregular satellites have been discovered since 2003 and have not yet been named.

Hubble discovers water vapor venting from Jupiter's moon Europa   Science Daily - December 12, 2013

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed water vapor above the frigid south polar region of Jupiter's moon Europa, providing the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon's surface. Europa is already thought to harbor a liquid ocean beneath its icy crust, making the moon one of the main targets in the search for habitable worlds away from Earth. This new finding is the first observational evidence of water vapor being ejected off the moon's surface.

New Finding Ups the Chances of Life on Jupiter's Moon Europa   Live Science - November 17, 2011
Europa, Jupiter's icy moon, meets not one but two of the critical requirements for life, scientists say. For decades, experts have known about the moon's vast underground ocean - a possible home for living organisms - and now a study shows that the ocean regularly receives influxes of the energy required for life via chaotic processes near the moon's surface.

Jupiter Moon's Buried Lakes Evoke Antarctica   Live Science - November 17, 2011
Some of the most frigid areas on Earth are providing scientists with tantalizing hints of water only a few miles under the icy crust of Jupiter's moon, Europa. Patches of broken ice unique to the moon have puzzled scientists for over a decade. Some have argued they are signs of a subterranean ocean breaking through, while others believe that the crust is too thick for the water to pierce. But new studies of ice formations in Antarctica and Iceland have provided clues to the creation of these puzzling features, which imply water nearer to the moon's surface than previously thought.

Jupiter moon 'holds magma ocean'   BBC - May 12, 2011
Io is the most volcanic world in the Solar System and scientists think they now have a better idea of why that is. The moon of Jupiter erupts about 100 times more lava on to its surface each year than does Earth. A re-assessment of data from Nasa's Galileo probe suggests all this activity is being fed from a giant magma ocean under Io's crust.

The Atmosphere of Io   PhysOrg - June 14, 2010
Io is one of the four moons of Jupiter that Galileo discovered after he turned his new telescope heavenward. They shocked him and his contemporaries because they demonstrated that heavenly bodies can orbit objects other than the Earth.

Jupiter's Moon Europa Has Enough Oxygen For Life   PhysOrg - October 17, 2009
New research suggests that there is plenty of oxygen available in the subsurface ocean of Europa to support oxygen-based metabolic processes for life similar to that on Earth. In fact, there may be enough oxygen to support complex, animal-like organisms with greater oxygen demands than microorganisms.

Scientists complete first geological global map of Jupiter's satellite Ganymede   PhysOrg - September 16, 2009
Scientists have assembled the first global geological map of the Solar System's largest moon - and in doing so have gathered new evidence into the formation of the large, icy satellite. The map really gives us a more complete understanding of the geological processes that have shaped the moon we see today.

Jupiter moon's poles 'wandered' far and wide New Scientist - May 14, 2008

The icy outer shell of Jupiter's moon Europa may have slipped about 80° within the last 60 million years, carrying the moon's polar regions towards its equator, a new study reports. The research bolsters the idea that a global ocean - which just might harbor life - lies hidden beneath the moon's icy surface. Spinning spheres push heavy lumps on their surfaces towards their equators. If the lumps lie near the poles, they can slip away from the spin axis in a process called 'true polar wander'. For large bodies with friction between their internal layers, such as the Earth and Mars, such slippage can be very slow. But an icy outer crust could tilt much faster if it floated on a subsurface ocean.

Jupiter's Moon Europa Does The Wave To Generate Heat    Science Daily - December 16, 2008
One of the moons in our solar system that scientists think has the potential to harbor life may have a far more dynamic ocean than previously thought. If the moon Europa is tilted on its axis even slightly as it orbits the giant planet Jupiter, then Jupiter's gravitational pull could be creating powerful waves in Europa's ocean.

Jupiter Moon Europa Has Violent, Hidden Oceans    National Geographic - December 11, 2008
Locked under ice, the hidden oceans of Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, may be tumultuous rather than placid, a new study says. Such oceanic unrest translates into a higher potential for life. Rather than just stressing the moon's solid parts squeezing its rocks and flexing a global shell of ice Jupiter's relentless tugging may also generate huge planetary waves in Europa's submerged ocean. These waves could be the primary vehicles for distributing energy, as heat, across Europa. The new theory counters a widely held impression that Europa's ocean is calm.

Have Jupiter's smallest moons been obliterated? New Scientist - October 9, 2007
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has found hints that Jupiter's tiniest moons have been obliterated. The findings are among a wide variety of observations of Jupiter and its moons that were released today by mission scientists. Launched in January 2006, the New Horizons probe flew by Jupiter on 28 February 2007 to get a boost from the planet's gravity on its way to its main target - Pluto. Now, mission members have announced a raft of new findings from the encounter with the solar system's most massive planet, including a puzzling absence of small moons in the planet's rings. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera on New Horizons should have been able to spot moons down to a diameter of about 1 kilometre. But it saw nothing smaller than Adrastea, a 16-kilometre-wide resident of Jupiter's faint ring system (see image at right). This is puzzling, because scientists expected the number of objects to increase at smaller size scales, as they do in the rings of Saturn. The missing moons may have been eroded away by micrometeoroids, say researchers led by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountainview, California, US.

Giant Volcanic Plume Bursts From Jupiter Moon National Geographic - May 2, 2007
Jupiter's most turbulent moon, Io, is renowned among scientists for its flashy volcanic displays. But even experts were surprised when they saw this plume of gas vaulting nearly 200 miles (320 kilometers) over the moon's north pole. The giant frozen jet about as tall as the state of New Hampshire is long spewed from a volcano known as Tvashtar in February, just as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft was cruising by on its way to Pluto. The passing craft captured several images of the event, providing an unprecedented view of volcanism on Io, the most geologically active body in the solar system, scientists said.

Spacecraft returns Jupiter images - Volcanic Plumes BBC - May 2, 2007
Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft has returned stunning views of the Jupiter system captured during a recent flyby. They include huge volcanic eruptions on the surface of the Io moon, as well as the first close-up look at a burgeoning red storm in Jupiter's atmosphere. The probe passed within 2.3 million km of Jupiter in a gravity kick manoeuvre to pick up speed as it dashes towards its ultimate target of Pluto. New Horizons was already the fastest space mission ever launched.

Probe spies Jupiter's moon Io, volcanic plume as it erupts BBC - March 1, 2007
Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft has sent back images of a huge volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io. A massive dust plume, estimated to be 150 miles (240km) high, can be seen erupting from Io's Tvashtar volcano. On Wednesday, the US probe flew by Jupiter, using the planet's gravity to boost its speed, reducing the travel time to its ultimate target of Pluto. New Horizons also took photos of the icy moons Europa and Ganymede in the run-up to its encounter with Jupiter. Turning its cameras to the giant planet itself, the spacecraft captured an image of Jupiter's little red spot, a nascent storm south of the famous great red spot.

Planetary Rings

The planet Jupiter has a system of rings, known as the rings of Jupiter or the Jovian ring system. It was the third ring system to be discovered in the Solar System, after those of Saturn and Uranus. It was first observed in 1979 by the Voyager 1 space probe and thoroughly investigated in the 1990s by the Galileo orbiter. It has also been observed by the Hubble Space Telescope and from Earth for the past 23 years. Ground-based observations of the rings require the largest available telescopes.

The Jovian ring system is faint and consists mainly of dust. It has four main components: a thick inner torus of particles known as the "halo ring"; a relatively bright, exceptionally thin "main ring"; and two wide, thick and faint outer "gossamer rings", named for the moons of whose material they are composed: Amalthea and Thebe.

The main and halo rings consist of dust ejected from the moons Metis, Adrastea and other unobserved parent bodies as the result of high-velocity impacts. High-resolution images obtained in February and March 2007 by the New Horizons spacecraft revealed a rich fine structure in the main ring.

In visible and near-infrared light, the rings have a reddish color, except the halo ring, which is neutral or blue in color. The size of the dust in the rings varies, but the cross-sectional area is greatest for nonspherical particles of radius about 15 um in all rings except the halo. The halo ring is probably dominated by submicrometre dust.

Jupiter's Rings Are Shaped By Interplay Of Sunlight And Shadow Science Daily - May 1, 2008
A new study reported that a faint extension of the outermost ring beyond the orbit of Jupiter's moon Thebe, and other observed deviations from an accepted model of ring formation, result from the interplay of shadow and sunlight on dust particles that make up the rings. It turns out that the outer ring's extended boundary and other in Jupiter's rings really are 'made in the shade.


In Roman mythology, Jupiter held the same role as Zeus in the Greek pantheon. He was called Juppiter Optimus Maximus Soter (Jupiter Best, Greatest, Saviour) as the patron deity of the Roman state, in charge of laws and social order. He was the chief god of the Capitoline Triad, with Juno and Minerva.

Jupiter is a vocative compound derived from archaic Latin Iovis and pater (Latin for father), this was also used as the nominative case. Jove is an English formation based on Iov-, the stem of oblique cases of the Latin name. Its Vedic equivalent is Dyaus Pita. The name of the god was also adopted as the name of the planet Jupiter, and was the original namesake of the weekday that would come to be known in English as Thursday (the etymological root can be seen in various Romance languages, including (accusative Iovem, genitive Iovis, dative Iovi and ablative Iove - an irregular declension). Linguistic studies identify his name as deriving from the Indo-European compound "O Father God", the Indo-European deity from whom also derive the Germanic Tiwaz (after whom Tuesday was named), the Greek Zeus, and the French jeudi, Castilian jueves, Italian giovedď and Catalan dijous, all from Latin Iovis Dies, whereas English takes his Norse equivalent, Thor).

The largest temple in Rome was that of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. Here he was worshipped alongside Juno and Minerva, forming the Capitoline Triad. Jupiter was also worshipped at Capitoline Hill in the form of a stone, known as Iuppiter Lapis or the Jupiter Stone, which was sworn upon as an oath stone. Temples to Juppiter Optimus Maximus or the Capitoline Triad as a whole were commonly built by the Romans at the center of new cities in their colonies.

It was once believed that the Roman god Jupiter was in charge of cosmic Justice, and in ancient Rome, people swore to Jove in their courts of law, which lead to the common expression "By Jove!", still used as an archaism today. In addition, "Jovial" is a medium-common adjective still used to describe people who are jolly, optimistic, and buoyant in temperament.

Jupiter, as Zeus, Z, in Greek mythology is the king of heaven and Earth and of all the Olympian gods. He is sometimes depicted throwing zig-zig lightning bolts to remind humans that reality is created by electromagnetic energy which moves the magic and mystery of our hologram through grid consciousness towards Zero Point.

In Roman mythology, Jupiter was known as the god of justice. He was named king of the gods in the special meeting that followed his overthrow of the god Saturn (Cronus in Greek mythology) and the Titans. In the council of the gods that followed Saturn's overthrow, Jupiter was crowned Lord of Heaven and Earth and of all the gods. Jupiter granted Neptune dominion over the Sea,
and his other brother Pluto dominion over the underworld.


Aliens most likely to be found on icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, UK scientists suggest   The Telegraph - April 16, 2013

This follows the setting up of the UK Centre for Astrobiology, which has been launched to investigate whether there is life beyond Earth. The centre is examining life on Earth and has set up an underground laboratory in Yorkshire a kilometre below the surface to examine how life survives there and search for indicators of how this could extend to other planets, particularly Mars where it is now believed that life could exist below the surface because of its harsh conditions.

New Finding Ups the Chances of Life on Jupiter's Moon Europa   Live Science - November 17, 2011

Europa, Jupiter's icy moon, meets not one but two of the critical requirements for life, scientists say. For decades, experts have known about the moon's vast underground ocean - a possible home for living organisms - and now a study shows that the ocean regularly receives influxes of the energy required for life via chaotic processes near the moon's surface.

Fishing for aliens Guardian - July 18, 2002

If Jupiter's satellite, Europa, has oceans as many suspect, there is a theory that extraterrestrial life could exist there.

One pseudoscience theory states that life on Europa is connected
to dolphins on planet Earth, communication via telepathic tones.


Jupiter is the method each of us has for dealing with the laws of life, our Saturn or limitations. The Hindu word for Jupiter is Guru and this planet indicates our particular Dharma, the way we can solve the problems that confront us. Thus Jupiter has to do with our vocation, the way in which we can be successful. Jupiter is the light or path. The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter represents the principles of growth and expansion.

Jupiter rules Sagittarius