Does Jupiter Have A Solid Surface & What Does It Look Like?

Jupiter stands out as one of the most striking planets in the Solar System, but what is its surface really like? Outer space is filled with seemingly endless wonders. In the Milky Way alone, scientists believe there are some 100 billion planets and 100 thousand million stars. Those numbers become even more significant when looking at the entire known universe. There are estimated to be 700 quintillion planets and 200 billion trillion stars.

Existing as an impossibly tiny speck amidst all of that is our Solar System. Home to just eight planets, the Solar System is a small and unique corner in the universe. It's home to planets like Mars, Saturn, and Earth — the only known planet in existence that has life. There's also Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System and the fifth one from the Sun. It's undoubtedly an impressive sight from a distance, but what does the planet's surface look like?

Related: Astronomers Just Found A Jupiter-Like Planet Orbiting Two Stars At Once

Jupiter is different from Earth in many ways, but perhaps the biggest difference has to do with its surface... or should we say the lack thereof. Unlike Earth, which has a solid ground surface and atmosphere above it, Jupiter doesn't have an actual surface at all. This is because Jupiter is a 'gas giant,' also known as a planet composed entirely of different gasses. As NASA explains"The planet is mostly swirling gases and liquids. While a spacecraft would have nowhere to land on Jupiter, it wouldn’t be able to fly through unscathed either. The extreme pressures and temperatures deep inside the planet crush, melt, and vaporize spacecraft trying to fly into the planet."

In short, Jupiter isn't a planet that humans will be visiting for a while. But what about Jupiter makes it so dangerous? The planet's composition primarily consists of hydrogen and helium gas. Pressure and temperatures increase the further you travel into the planet — eventually becoming so intense that electrons are believed to be separated from their hydrogen atoms. That enormous pressure also compresses hydrogen gasses into a liquid form, thus creating a massive ocean made up entirely of liquid hydrogen. In fact, the ocean is so big that it's the largest one in the entire Solar System.

But a huge ocean isn't the only thing you'd find on Jupiter's 'surface.' Also heavily present on the planet are storms of unbelievable sizes. When Jupiter's gasses are combined with its fast rotation, NASA says this creates, "strong jet streams, separating its clouds into dark belts and bright zones across long stretches." With these jet streams being created and not having a solid surface to stop them, storms on Jupiter are unlike anything we experience on Earth. Jupiter's storms often last for years at a time and can have winds that go up to 335 miles per hour. The Great Red Spot is Jupiter's most famous storm, standing out for being twice the width of Earth and having been observed for over 300 years.

So that's Jupiter. It doesn't have a solid surface, and it compensates for that with a gigantic ocean and incredible storms. It'd undoubtedly be a beautiful thing to see in person, but unless a huge scientific breakthrough is made, that's not going to happen any time soon.

Next: Here's What Happens When A Star Gets Too Close To A Black Hole

Source: NASA

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