Big bright bully of the sky,
This gas giant’s a real tough guy,
5th placed planet from the sun,
It’s really huge, the biggest one,
300 times, the size of Earth,
He likes to tease and use his girth!
All other planets,
Not even half,
This planet’s measure!
Twice as large as them combined,
He gives them trouble all the time,
“I’m so great!
Red spot’s shiny!
You’re all tiny!”
And gave a laugh,
“At least I’m not,
Made of gas…”
Watch Mr. R.’s Planet Song
Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system. It is two and a half times the size of all the other planets combined. It is a gas giant (along with Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), which means it is mostly gas and liquid. It is not known if Jupiter has any type of solid core.
It takes Jupiter almost twelve Earth years to orbit the Sun, but it is the fastest rotating planet, finishing one complete rotation in less than ten hours.
One of Jupiter’s most famous features is its “great red spot” which is actually a storm that has lasted for at least 180 years (raincoats anyone?) and possibly up to 400. The storm is so large that it could entirely cover 2 or 3 Earths!
Jupiter has at least 63 moons (that’s a lot of cheese). One of its moons is called Europa. Many scientists believe that Europa has liquid water under its icy crust. Because it is one of the few bodies in the solar system that might contain liquid water, it is a prime candidate for exploration and the search for extra-terrestrial life (NASA sent a Jupiter probe in August 2011).
Jupiter’s moon Europa