Planet Jupiter

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system; all of the other planets could fit inside Jupiter. One of its major atmospheric features is the Great Red Spot – cyclonic in nature and twice Earth’s diameter. The Great Red Spot was first seen by Galileo in 1610 and has been seen to change shape and color over the past 400 years.

Lightning and thunderstorms have been observed in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

Jupiter has some other interesting features, including:

  • It gives off more heat than it receives.
  • It has a small, dense rocky core surrounded by hydrogen and some helium even though it is primarily a Gas Giant planet. Some speculate the core is solid hydrogen.
  • It is a natural radio source, like the Sun and other stars.
  • It has aurora events, much like Earth.

Jupiter at a Glance

Characteristics to Compare


  • Hydrogen (H ), Helium (H ), Methane (CH ), Ammonia (NH ), Water (H O)


  • Short rotation — 9.8 hours


  • Long revolution — 11.86 years


  • One thin ring detected by the Voyager 2 spacecraft

Magnetic Field

  • A very strong magnetic field; 20,000 times that of Earth’s
Image Jupiter – with cloud features like the Great Red Spot, Olivarez Blue Features, Belts and Bands. The black dot is the shadow of a moon.
The planet Juptier via NASA Cassini SpacecraftPublic Domain | Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot via NASA Voyager 2Public Domain | Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot with turbulent cloud tops.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot with turbulent cloud tops via NASA Galileo SpacecraftPublic Domain | Image courtesy of NASA.

Image showing lightning in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere. These mosaics of Jupiter's night side show the Jovian aurora at approximately 45 minute intervals as the auroral ring rotated with the planet below the spacecraft. The images were obtained by the Solid State Imaging (SSI) system on NASA's Galileo spacecraft. during its eleventh orbit of Jupiter. The auroral ring is offset from Jupiter's pole of rotation and reaches the lowest latitude near 165 degrees west longitude. The aurora is hundreds of kilometers wide, and when it crosses the edge of Jupiter, it is about 250 kilometers above the planet.
Lightning in Jupiter’s upper atmospherePublic Domain | Image courtesy of NASA.