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What is it Like to Visit Jupiter?

What is it Like to Visit Jupiter?

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. For some perspective, if it were hollow, more than 1,300 Earths could fit inside of it! The giant planet contains two-thirds of all the planetary mass in the solar system and holds more than dozens of moons in its gravitational grip. But what about a visit to this giant planet?

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Let’s be honest…Jupiter is not a nice place to visit. It’s a giant ball of gas and there’s nowhere to land. Any spacecraft – or person – passing through the colorful clouds gets crushed and melted. On Jupiter, the pressure is so strong it squishes gas into liquid. Its atmosphere can crush a metal spaceship like a paper cup.

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Jupiter’s stripes and swirls are cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a giant storm BIGGER THAN EARTH! This storm has lasted hundreds of years.

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Since Jupiter’s atmosphere is made up of mostly hydrogen and helium, it’s poisonous. There’s also dangerous radiation, more than 1,000 times the lethal level for a human.  

Scientists think that Jupiter’s core may be a thick, super hot soup…up to 50,000 degrees! Woah!

The Moons

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Did you know that Jupiter has its own “mini solar system” of 50 moons? Scientists are most interested in the Galilean satellites – which are the four largest moons discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. 

Today, Galileo would be astounded to know
some of the facts about these moons. The moon Io has active volcanos. Ganymede
has its own magnetic field while Europa has a frozen crust with liquid-water
underneath making it a tempting place to explore for future missions.

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When Juno arrives to Jupiter on July 4, it will bring with it a slew of
instruments such as infrared imager/spectrometer and vector magnetometer among
the half a dozen other scientific tools in its payload.

Juno will avoid Jupiter’s highest radiation regions by approaching over the north, dropping to an altitude below the planet’s radiation belts – which are analogous to Earth’s Van Allen belts, but far more deadly – and then exiting over the south. To protect sensitive spacecraft electronics, Juno will carry the first radiation shielded electronics vault, a critical feature for enabling sustained exploration in such a heavy radiation environment.

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