Pitted Surface Of Callisto

DARK GROOVES AND RIDGES RUNNING ACROSS EUROPA'S WATER-ICE SURFACE

jupiter magnetic field

Electric currents within Jupiter's metallic hydrogen layer generate a magnetic field about 20,000 times stronger than Earth's and stronger than any other planet's. It is as if a large bar magnet were embedded inside Jupiter, tilted by about 11° to the spin axis. As a result, radiation belts surround Jupiter and solar-wind particles are channeled into the planet's upper atmosphere around its magnetic poles. These interact with the gases to produce colorful aurorae.

missions to jupiter

Jupiter was the first of the outer planets to be visited by spacecraft. Pioneer 10 flew by in December 1973, then Pioneer 11 exactly a year later. Two more probes, Voyagers 1 and 2, flew by in 1979. Galileo reached Jupiter in 1995 after a six-year journey. Over the next eight years, it made an in-depth study of the Jovian system, orbiting the planet, then flying by the Galilean moons in turn.

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shimmering aurora

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this eyecatching view of an aurora—a by-product of Jupiter's powerful magnetic field—centered on the planet's north magnetic pole in 1998.

galileo

Galileo is the only craft to have made a long-term study of Jupiter and its major moons. On arrival at Jupiter, Galileo released a smaller probe, which plunged into the atmosphere to take measurements directly.

observing jupiter and its moons

Even though Jupiter is hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, sunlight reflects brightly off its atmosphere and it is easily spotted in the night sky. It is brightest (magnitude —2.9) at opposition, which occurs every 13 months. It then appears all night long, rising at sunset, being highest in the middle of the night, and setting at sunrise. Jupiter is visible for about ten months each year. It spends about 12 months in one zodiac constellation before moving into the next.

to the naked eye

To the naked eye, Jupiter appears to be a particularly bright, disklike silver star. At most times, it is the second brightest planet, after Venus.

through BiNocuLARs

The planet's Galilean moons come into view, ranged along an imaginary line stretching on either side of Jupiter's equator. They change position as they orbit.

with a large telescope

Jupiter's banded appearance is now visible. The view changes as the planet spins, and large surface features, such as the Great Red Spot, can be seen.

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