After the Sun, Jupiter is the largest celestial body in the solar system, with a mass almost two and a half times that of the other planets combined and with a mass 318 times that of the Earth and three times that of Saturn. In addition to being in volume, 1317 times that of the Earth. It is also the oldest planet in the solar system, even older than the sun; this discovery was made by researchers at the University of Münster in Germany.
In our history, the gas giant has been explored several times by spacecraft, including during the first Pioneer and Voyager missions and later by the Galileo orbiter. In late February 2007, Jupiter received a visit from the New Horizons probe, which used the planet’s gravity to increase its speed and curve its trajectory en route to Pluto. The last probe to visit the planet is Juno, which entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016.
Despite this, it is not the most massive planet known: more than a hundred extra-solar planets have been discovered with masses similar or superior to Jupiter. It also has the fastest rotation speed among the planets of our solar system: it rotates in less than ten hours on its axis. All in all, it’s quite a planet.
The main satellites of Jupiter were discovered by Galileo on 7 January 1610, hence their name Galilean satellites. They receive their names from Greek mythology although at the time of Galileo they were designated by Roman numerals according to their order of proximity to the planet.
The discovery of these satellites constituted an inflection point in the already long conflict between those who supported the idea of a geocentric system, that is with the Earth at the centre of the universe, and the heliocentric system, that is with the Sun at the centre of the solar system, in which it was much easier to explain the movement and the very existence of Jupiter’s natural satellites.
Words cannot describe how beautiful the largest planet in our solar system is. Fortunately, the images speak a thousand words, which is why we present here some of the most fascinating images of Jupiter taken by the Juno spacecraft.
All images in this article are from NASA.