Juno arrives!

Five years ago, NASA launched a tiny space ship, no bigger than a basketball court, into the depths of space, to travel to a planet 11 times larger than our own. Tomorrow morning, by 05:00 am BST, we will know if it has successfully arrived.

JUNO is going to be exploring Jupiter inside and out. As I said in an earlier blog, JUNO will be studying every inch of Jupiter right down to the core. I’ll give all the science a thorough going over as the results come pouring in, in later blogs. But for now, I want to tell you a bit about the planet itself.

I am super excited about the JUNO project. I am so excited because Jupiter is and always will be, my favourite planet in our solar system. Many people say Saturn, due to its incredible ring system, and it is no doubt very impressive, but for me Jupiter will always be King. And I’d like to tell you why. So here are…

Five Reasons Jupiter is the Best Planet Ever.

1) Weather

There’s none like it in the solar system. The colours and variations in the vast bands of clouds, any one of which would swallow our little planet whole. And the constant, devastating storms that crackle through those clouds are mind boggling. Which is not to mention the Great Red Spot: a storm twice the size of Earth that has been raging for over 300 years!

GRS.gif

2) Moons

If there is any hope for life being found in this solar system outside of our planet, it is on the moons of Jupiter, in particular Europa, which is basically a big ball of ice. And under that ice, is water, and where there is water there might be life. But that’s not to sell the others short, particularly the other three large moons; dangerous, volcanic Io; large, magnetic Ganymede; and pock-marked, rocky Callisto, each one different from others.

moons.gif

3) The Core

This is one of the big questions that JUNO is trying to answer. What is going on beneath all those dense surface clouds, down where no one has ever seen before? Does the Jupiter have a solid, rocky core, or is it just gas all the way down? JUNO will be taking very, very careful measurements of Jupiter’s gravity to try and answer that question.

core.gif

4) Magnets

One thing Saturn and Earth have in common, is the magnetic field around each planet. That’s what makes the aurora borealis, the famous northern lights. And they happen on Saturn too. But why am I telling you about Saturn? Well, Jupiter has a magnetic field too, only it’s more than ten times stronger than on Earth or Saturn. And that leads to some spectacular light shows, which would dwarf our own, many times over.

lights.gif

5) Music

Finally, Jupiter, the bringer of joy, is without a doubt the most famous, and in my opinion the best, of Gustav Holst’s Planets suite. If you don’t know it, you should. It is beautiful. Check it out.


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