This image was taken in
February, 1995, when Jupiter
was 519 million miles from Earth.
The atmosphere of Jupiter is characterized by brightly colored cloud bands and turbulent storms. What we see of the surface are bands of the highest clouds in a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, which are the primary constituents of the planet. Traces of other gases produce the bright bands of color.
Huge areas of swirling gases can be seen in Jupiter's atmosphere. The largest swirling area of gas is called the "Great Red Spot," and is visible toward the bottom of the image. Scientist believe this is a tremendous hurricane-like storm which was formed at least 300 years ago, while the three large white oval spots, visible above and to the left of the Great Red Spot, are storms that were formed in the 1930s. The oval spots are about 8000 miles across, or roughly comparable to the size of Earth. Large bolts of lightning have also been seen in Jupiter's atmosphere.
Jupiter gives off two times more heat than it gets from the Sun. It shines very brightly in the night sky for nine months of the year when it is closest to Earth. Pictures taken by space probes have shown thin rings around Jupiter.
It also makes up its own miniature solar system with its family of at least sixteen Moons! One of Jupiter's moons, Io, has active volcanoes on it. Areas on Io that are near the volcanoes are very, very hot.
483 million miles from sun. Diameter: 88,672 miles. Moons: 16. Length of year: 11.9 Earth years.