Tomorrow the NASA spacecraft Juno will arrive at the planet Jupiter. Once it gets there it will study the largest of our solar systems planets, which we know remarkably little about. We’ve only sent one orbiter there before, Galileo, which visited from 1995-2003. So what do we know about Jupiter already? Here are some facts about the King of the Planets:
- Jupiter has 67 known moons. The largest, Ganymede, is bigger than the planet Mercury
- Jupiter is famous for its ‘red spot’. This is a storm so large that it could contain 3 Earths
- Jupiter is named after the king of the Roman gods, also known as Jove. Juno was the queen of the gods and Jupiter’s wife
- A day on Jupiter lasts for just 9 hours and 55 minutes. This is the shortest day of all the planets
- A year on Jupiter lasts for almost 12 Earth years – that’s 10,475 Jovian days
- The average temperature on Jupiter is −108°C. This is because of its vast distance from the Sun
- Jupiter is an average of 779 million km from the Sun. That’s more than 5 times further out than we are
- Jupiter is 2.5 times as large as all the other planets put together. You could fit 1,321 Earths inside it
- Only 3 natural object appear brighter in Earth’s skies than Jupiter – the Sun, the Moon and Venus. Mars and Mercury are closer to us but much, much smaller
Juno was launched in 2011 and has taken almost 5 years to reach its destination. That might sound like a long time but it has been travelling an average of 60,000 km/h. This should give you an idea of the absolute enormity of space!
If, like me, you are interested in astronomy then you may want to keep an eye on NASA’s page about Juno’s mission. You might also like to keep an eye on the night sky, and what better way to do that than with a Celestron 31150 LCM 114 Short Computerised Reflector Telescope worth £250? You could win one in July’s Best Score of the Month competition. Why not give it a go?