Facts About Jupiter

Jupiter and moon Io, captured by New Horizon in 2007

Above: A montage of images captured by New Horizon in 2007, showing Jupiter and one of its moons, Io. The blue hue seen at the northern edge of Io is the plume from a volcanic eruption, the red glow of lava visible below it (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Goddard Space Flight Center).

Quick Fact File


142,983 km - the diameter (88,846 miles) of the planet.

69,911 km - the equatorial radius (43,441 miles).

1,120% - comparison in size to Earth.

439,264 km - the equatorial circumference (272,946 miles).

61,418,738,571 km² - the surface area (23,713,907,537 mi²).


817 million km - maximum distance from the Sun (508 million miles).

741 million km - minimum distance from the Sun (460 million miles).

779 million km - average distance from the Sun (484 million miles).

588 million km - closest distance to Earth (346 million miles).


12 years - the orbital period of the planet Jupiter - the time taken to orbit the Sun in Earth years (11.862 years).

4,333 days - the time taken to orbit the Sun in Earth days (4,332.82 days).

9.9 hours - the rotation period - the time taken for the planet to rotate on its own axis (9.9250 hours).

12,000°C - the estimated temperature (20,000°F) at the centre of Jupiter; the planet is still cooling down from when it was formed.

4 million - the amount by which you would need to multiply the pressure at the centre of Earth to match that of Jupiter's core.

10 hours - the length of a day on Jupiter in equivalent Earth time.

4,333 days - the length of a year on Jupiter, in Earth days (4,332.82 days).

47,051 km/h - the speed that Jupiter travels through space, relative to the sun (29,236 mph).

13.07 km/s - that speed expressed in terms of distance covered each second (8.12 mi/s).

20,000 - the amount of times by which Jupiter's magnetic field is greater than Earth.

2 - the number of elements that dominate the atmosphere of Jupiter (hydrogen and helium).

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Missions to Jupiter

8 - the number of probes that have visited Jupiter. Juno (see below) will be the ninth.

1 - the number of these missions that have entered orbit around Jupiter, the Galileo probe, which arrived in 1995. Juno will be the second.

06 November 1973 - the date that the first probe sent to Jupiter, Pioneer 10, was launched.

06 November 1973 - the date on which Pioneer 10 started capturing images.

132,252 km - the closest Pioneer 10 came to Jupiter (82,178 mi), on 04 December 1973.

23 January 2003 - the date on which radio communications with Pioneer 10 were lost, as electrical power to the transmitter finally failed.

114.068 AU - the estimated distance of Pioneer 10 from Earth (16 billion km, or 10 billion mi) at the beginning of 2016, expressed in Astronomical Units (1 AU = 149,597,871 km (92,955,807 mi), the mean distance from the centre of Earth to the centre of the sun). Left undisturbed, the probe will continue to fly out into space, heading in the direction of the constellation Taurus

1979 - the year that Jupiter was first surveyed, by the Voyager probes.

Timelapse sequence of Voyager 1 approaching Jupiter

Above: Timelapse sequence of Voyager 1 approaching Jupiter (Credit: via Wikimedia Commons).

05 August 2011 - the date of which the latest mission to Jupiter, named Juno, was launched from Cape Canaveral.

04 July 2016 - the date that Juno is due to arrive at the planet.

20 months - the planned length of the mission, due to conclude in February 2018, when a controlled deorbit will allow the craft to burn up in Jupiter's atmosphere.

37 - the number of times Juno will orbit Jupiter.

$1.1 billion - the anticipated total cost of the Juno mission.

16,496 km - the approximate length (10,250 mi) of the Great Red Spot, the swirling storm that forms the most prominent feature of the visible planet, as of 2014.

Did You Know?

The Great Red Spot is shrinking, and scientists are unsure why. The size of the storm today is less than half the size estimated in the late 1800s (41,038 km, or 25,500 mi). Whilst it used to be said that you could fit 3 Earths inside the spot, today it would be just one Earth.

933 km - the rate (580 miles) by which amateur astronomers have calculated the storm is shrinking each year, reported in 2012.

1999 - the year in which NASA discovered a new super storm on Jupiter, a large white spot around half the size of the Great Red Spot.

2006 - the year this new storm turned red in colour.

Moons of Jupiter

Jupiter and her largest moon, Ganymede

Above: Jupiter and her largest moon, Ganymede photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope, April 2007 (Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Karkoschka, University of Arizona).

67 - the number of moons known to be orbiting Jupiter (most of them are very small).

16 - the number of these moons that are above 10 km in diameter, ranging from Leda (10 km) to Ganymede (5,268 km).

4 - the number of these moons classed as major satellites (Ganymede, Callisto, Europa and Io), known as the Galileans.

Did You Know?

The largest of Jupiter's moons, Ganymede, is the largest moon in the entire solar system, bigger even than the planet Mercury.

1610 - the year in which Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) first tracked satellites orbiting Jupiter, using the first telescope.

Jupiter's moon Callisto photographed by the Galileo spacecraft

Above: Jupiter's moon Callisto photographed by the Galileo spacecraft, May 2001 (Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR (German Aerospace Center)).

New Horizons flying by Jupiter

Above: Artists impression of New Horizons flying by Jupiter on its way to Pluto, as the volcanic moon Io passes between them (Credit: JHUAPL/SwRI).

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