You may have wondered: How does the mass of Jupiter compare to the rest of the planets? Jupiter is a ringing giant with a diameter of 88695 miles (142800 kilometers) and a volume over one and a half billion times that of Earth. The size of Jupiter is so huge that 1300 Earths could fit inside of it. Yet the planet’s mass is only about 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets.
Jupiter’s mass is 316 times the mass of the Earth
Jupiter’s mass is 316 times the weight of the Earth. This is because the mass of the Earth is packed much more tightly into its surface than that of Jupiter. Jupiter is made up primarily of light gasses such as hydrogen and nitrogen and also contains ammonia oxygen and other trace gases. The density of the gasses also varies. However the Earth is still about a third of Jupiter’s mass.
As the largest planet in our solar system Jupiter is far more massive than Earth. The planet has a radius 11 times the size of the Earth and a mass 316 times the mass of Earth. Despite the mass the planet is so massive that its radius balloons to 11 times the size of the Earth which means that the gravitational force at Jupiter’s surface drops by one-tenth of a star.
In addition to Jupiter’s enormous mass the planet also has irregular satellites with much smaller orbits. These irregular satellites are broken into families and are thought to have formed as the result of collisions between large bodies. The mass and size of the planet are very different and Jupiter’s moons are incredibly different than Earth. The Juno mission is a great example of the difference between the two.
Jupiter’s rotation creates strong jet streams
Scientists have long wondered how Jupiter’s atmosphere is so unique and it turns out that its rotation produces strong jet streams. These jets are influenced by the Coriolis effect which makes lower latitudes travel faster than higher ones and thus creates a net spin in a pressure zone. Cyclones form over Jupiter’s poles and the direction of spin is different in the northern and southern hemispheres.
The bands of clouds on Jupiter are the result of complex chemical reactions and processes. The process of formation takes place via convection in which hot gases cool and condense into liquid droplets or ice crystals. These storms can last hours or even centuries. The jet streams are powerful because of Jupiter’s high rotation rate but their energy source is unknown. Jupiter’s fast rotation creates intense jet streams so the wind energy is not readily available on Earth.
The storms on Jupiter are similar to those on Earth but they are much more violent. The Great Red Spot a huge anticyclonic storm that circles Jupiter’s southern hemisphere has winds more than four hundred miles per hour. This storm is the biggest storm system on Earth and it has been raging for centuries. Jupiter’s storms are akin to the hurricanes we experience on Earth with wind speeds ranging from 200 to 330 mph.
Jupiter’s cyclones are actually cold windy clouds of ammonia and water
While it’s hard to imagine the icy atmosphere of a planet that is twice the size of Earth the giant gas giant has a strange and fascinating atmosphere. Its cyclones and cyclone-like storms are actually cold windy clouds of ammonia and water. Scientists have long suspected that Jupiter’s stripes are the result of the atmosphere’s moisture but now they can be explained with the help of geophysical fluid dynamics.
There are two types of cyclones on Jupiter the Great Red Spot and the Little Red Spot. The former is half the size of the Great Red Spot and is almost the same color. The Great Red Spot is nearly twice as wide and scientists speculate that it was created by merging several smaller spots. Scientists believe that the Great Red Spot was formed in the same way.
The ammonia and water in Jupiter’s atmosphere interact with the crystals in the atmosphere. When the two mix the ammonia acts as anti-freeze and melts ice. This interaction makes thick ammonia-rich mushballs which then fall through the Jovian atmosphere. They then melt and become gaseous where they are visible to Juno’s camera. This process also allows scientists to learn about the heat-movement on Jupiter.
In comparison to the other planets Jupiter is 2.5 times larger. At 318 times the mass of Earth Jupiter has twice the mass of the other planets. And yet despite its enormous size its orbit is abnormal. This anomaly led to the discovery of Pluto by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Now astronomers are wondering how Jupiter’s mass compares to that of the other planets.
The mass of Jupiter is the result of dividing the Jovian mass parameter by a constant called the gravitational mass constant G. The GM product is known to be many orders of magnitude more accurate than either of its constituent factors but this limited precision limits its accuracy. Scientists prefer to refer to the gravitational mass parameter (GM) when computing Jupiter’s mass relative to other objects.
This animation also shows how Jupiter’s mass compares to the mass of the other planets. The animation shows the relative sizes of Jupiter Mercury Venus and Saturn. You can see how the size of Jupiter and the other planets are almost indistinguishable in the animation. But what’s most amazing is the scale in which Jupiter is compared to the other planets.
While Jupiter’s surface temperature is similar to Earth’s its interior temperature is significantly higher than ours. The surface temperature is about 340 K. It is covered by clouds that are about 50 km thick. At these temperatures hydrogen is likely to become metallic and form a solid at a higher temperature. And as hydrogen on Jupiter rises the pressure is at a high level. The interior pressure of Jupiter is estimated at 3000-4500 GPa.
We know that Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system but how do we measure its mass in relation to the other planets? The Sun is one of the most massive objects in the universe and Jupiter has around 2.5 times that mass. However the mass of Jupiter is not as large as the mass of other planets since it orbits the Sun. The mass of Jupiter is measured in kilograms per square kilometer which means that it is 2.5 times as heavy as the rest of the planets.
While many of the other planets have more than twice as much mass Jupiter has a thick atmosphere made up of over 99% of air. Its atmosphere is made up of hydrogen helium methane and ammonia the same as the atmosphere of the Sun. Jupiter’s atmosphere is so dense however that it could have evolved into a double star like our Sun. But this would mean that Jupiter would have had to be 80 times more massive in order to turn into a star.
Although Jupiter is 2.5 times as dense as the other planets it is only about a third as heavy as Earth. This means that it has a low density and its surface gravity is low so it is difficult to measure its mass. The mass of Jupiter is comparable to that of Saturn which is about six-tenths of the mass of the Earth. The Jovian planets are extremely large but their density is quite low – an object weighing 100 pounds would weigh about 250 pounds on Jupiter.
Jupiter’s four largest moons
The Galilean moons are in orbit around Jupiter. Ganymede the largest of these has a diameter of about 3100 kilometers and is the ninth largest object in the Solar System. It has a magnetic field and is thought to have liquid water beneath its crust. The other three moons are less than a thousand kilometers in diameter and revolve in retrograde motion.
Until the 1970s all the moons of Jupiter were labeled by Roman numerals. Various suggestions were made to give them names but none of these was officially accepted. The IAU Task Group for Outer Solar System Nomenclature granted names to the four moons and set up a formal naming process for future satellites. The moons of Jupiter were named after their lovers in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
The four largest moons of Jupiter all have varying densities. Their density is measured by the fluctuations in their orbits and it decreases with distance from Jupiter. However the outermost moon Callisto has a density in the middle between rock and ice while Europa’s density is near that of iron. Io’s surface is highly cratered and may have no metallic core.
In addition to Europa Jupiter’s four largest moons Ganymede Callisto and Io all have oceans of liquid water. However they are more tidally resonant with each other. While Jupiter’s gravity is strong enough to generate a large upswing Galilean moons produce little upswings.