While our knowledge of the exact beginning of solar system is based on theory only, there are some facts about Jupiter and its Great Red Spot that are known thanks to thousands of years of study. Ancestral man must have gazed up into the nighttime sky in wonder at the display of sparkling lights against that tapestry of black provided most nights; however, it wasn’t until the early 1600’s that technology and intelligence reached the stages to begin researching the universe. Some of what we have found there, including Jupiter, can be a difficult study.
The theory of the emergence of planets such as Jupiter is that around 4.6 billion years ago, a thick, gassy cloud containing dust existed in the universe. Called the solar nebula, this molecular cloud covered a span light years in width in an atmosphere of extreme frigidity. It is believed that this solar nebula collapsed and began to spin; perhaps as a result of some type of solar explosion. With the collapse of the nebula came areas of varying density, with gravity assuming control in those areas of higher density. From one of these high density areas, our sun began to form. Included in this region were many collections of dust particles that began to orbit the sun. These particles fused together with other objects, forming rocks that turned to boulders, boulders that turned into small planets which eventually collided with other small planets to become those present in our solar system today.
While these are theories that have been formed from information available from our history, actual exploration has been conducted that has produced true facts about Jupiter and the other planets in our solar system. Although the planet cannot be landed upon for exploration, various fly-bys of satellites and the Hubble Telescope have provided scientists and astronomers with a great deal of interesting facts.
The Earth’s population is estimated, as of the first half of 2009, to be 6,783,421,727 people. Keeping this in mind, now consider that the planet Jupiter is over 300 times larger than Earth. This makes Jupiter the largest of all eight major planets within our solar system; at such a size that, if it were a hollow orb, it would easily hold all of the other planets inside.
Jupiter’s composition, however, is much different from Earth. Whereas Earth is a rocky planet with a solid surface, Jupiter is made up of a variety of gasses, such as helium, dense hydrogen, nitrogen, water, methane and ammonia. These gasses could possibly swirl around a very small rocky or icy core. Because of the gravitational field surrounding the planet, the gasses are pressed into a spherical shape, resulting in the ball-like planet we see.
Because of its gaseous nature, no one is able to walk upon the planet Jupiter. Information about the planet has been garnered through several flybys of spacecraft and satellites, as well as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
When viewing Jupiter through a telescope on earth, the visual appearance seen will be cloud mass. Clouds surround Jupiter, but not water based clouds such as is found on Earth. Rather, on Jupiter the clouds are composed of hydrogen sulfide, water and ammonia. The clouds change formation continuously, and will actually alter while being viewed.
Planets are often described as to their relationship and distance from the sun. Of the eight major planets, Jupiter is the fifth furthest planet from the sun.
With its distant proximity to the Sun, Jupiter exists in a frigid climate. However, because of the immense pressure that is created within the planet’s gaseous interior, the center is thought to be hotter than the sun. Facts about Jupiter’s composition indicate that there may be an area beneath the upper cloud layer that would be around room temperature.