Jupiter’s Poles, Spots and Moons
Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System is a very interesting and fascinating giant, twice the size of all other planets combined. It is classified as a gas giant, one of only two in the Solar System, with the other being Saturn. Consisting mostly of hydrogen, the planet was named after the same name Roman chief deity, and the god of sky and thunder. The gas giant hasn’t unveiled all its secrets just yet, which makes it even more intriguing, especially when it comes to its poles, spots and moons.
Jupiter’s Poles - What is So Special About Them?
The thing that makes Jupiter’s poles so special are its spectacular auroras which are formed around both south and north pole. In contrary to those that occur around the Earth’s poles, those around Jupiter’s poles are permanent and much more intense. Also, they are not created by solar storms like on Earth. Instead, they are a result of Jupiter’s strong magnetic field and rapid rotation but according to scientists, the planet’s moons - especially Io - play an important role in the formation of auroras as well.
The Great Red Spot and White and Brown Ovals
The Great Red Spot, an ongoing storm with a diameter larger than Earth is the most famous of all Jupiter’s spots. That’s right. The planet has other, although not as large spots as well. The first category are the so-called white ovals which form in the upper atmosphere and are thought to be made up of cold clouds. The second category are brown ovals which are thought to be warmer.
The Oval BA is the best known spot after the Great Red Spot. But unlike the latter which has been raging for centuries (it was first described by Italian astronomer and mathematician Giovanni Domenico Cassini in the 17th century), the Oval BA formed only in 2000 following a collision of three smaller white spots.
The largest planet in the Solar System has over 60 moons which also include the four Galilean moons (they were discovered by Galileo Galilei in the early 17th century). They include the incredibly geologically active Io, massive Ganymede which is the largest moon the Solar System, extraordinary smooth Europa with a water ocean beneath the icy crust and Callisto which may also have a subsurface ocean that could harbour extraterrestrial life. But according to most scientists, Europa is a much better candidate than Callisto.