We all know Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, and it’s the next planet you come to when you pass Mars. With all the talk and speculation about astronomers travelling to Mars within the next decade or so, people are often left wondering; why Mars? It’s smaller than our planet at the moment, so what are the benefits of moving there?
This is especially true when there’s a much bigger planet just a little further than Mars, right? Well, not exactly. Here’s a couple of reasons why we’re not going to be moving to Jupiter any time soon.
Why can’t we live on Jupiter?
There are several different reasons why humans won’t be able to live on the planet Jupiter. The fact that the planet is primarily made of gas, with no oxygen, whilst getting hotter and hotter the further beneath its surface you go, meaning that Jupiter is inhabitable for humans.
It’s these conditions that make astronomers think that there’s very likely no form of life on the planet; certainly not anything that could resemble human life, anyway. But let’s look at the reasons why moving to gas giant Jupiter would be a bad idea.
Okay, the first hurdle that we’d have to overcome if we were to live on the planet Jupiter is that there’s literally no oxygen available there. In case you weren’t already aware, oxygen is pretty valuable for us humans(!).
Because there’s no oxygen available for us to breathe, we’d have to find a way to bring our own oxygen to the planet. But even then, it’s still not the best idea. You can also read about more awesome facts about Jupiter. For now, let’s go through the other reasons why Jupiter is a no go.
It’s made of gas with no solid surface
Jupiter is often compared to the Sun, and is often referred to by astronomers as being a failed star. This is because the gas planet is composed of the same materials as you’d find in some stars, which is primarily hydrogen.
It’s mainly made of gas, with no solid surface for us to walk upon. Even beneath the atmosphere that’s made up of hydrogen and helium, there’s only more hydrogen below this. If we go right down to the core of Jupiter then yes, there’s some hard rock at its center, but the majority of it is gas.
Between the gas and the hard core, if miraculously humans could go to the planet, it’d probably be somewhat like moving through a cloud. So, even if we take away the atmosphere having no oxygen for us to breathe, beneath that it’s just cloud anyway.
Weather: It’s ridiculously hot underneath the surface
So, no oxygen and no solid surface for us to and on – it’s not looking good. But that’s not the only thing we’d need to think about, as the temperature is going to be a big factor too. As Jupiter is pretty far away from the Sun, the external regions of the planet are pretty cold in the outer solar system – when you go even further out from Jupiter, there’s a lot more water ice on the surface of planets Uranus and Neptune. However, at its solid core center it does have its own internal heating system.
If we then look at the core of the planet, the temperature is ridiculously hot – I’m talking 35,000°c hot. So, even if we could find some amazing way to live within the hydrogen of the planet, there’s really no surface for us to walk on. If we also consider the large storms like the Great Red spot that travel across the surface of Jupiter, it’s easy to see why it’s an inhabitable planet.
One clarification: The Asteroid belt
And if hollywood movies are anything to go by, then it’ll be impossible to make it all the way through the Asteroid bely unscathed. However, the truth is that the Asteroid belt isn’t anything like its shown in the films.
Space is so big that in reality, all of the Asteroids in the belt are a far distance apart from each other. This is why it was relatively easy to get spacecrafts like the Voyager 1 and 2 through the Asteroid belt, as the objects there aren’t as close to each other as you would think. This means that actually it would be pretty easy to navigate through the Asteroid belt on our way to Jupiter (but obviously due to all of the above, there’s no point in us going there!).
Because of all of the reasons above, it’s pretty clear that it’d be impossible for humans to ever live on the planet Jupiter. Even though the large size of the planet is definitely appealing, the planet is actually primarily made of gas, so for humans, it’d be inhabitable. Plus, it’d take a few years to get there too!