The Solar System consists of the Sun, the eight planets and their satellites; several dwarf planets and other astronomical objects. The eight planets, starting from the one nearest to the sun until the farthest are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
What is the biggest planet from among all these? It’s Jupiter. Jupiter is actually a gas giant with a mass that is 2 ½ times bigger than the combined mass of all the planets in the Solar System.
Jupiter’s Size Against Earth
The planet Jupiter, when compared to Earth, is three hundred and seventeen times the mass of Earth. Measuring at Jupiter’s equator, the planet’s diameter is 142,984 kilometers which translates to more than eleven Earths.
You could actually put inside Jupiter, assuming it were a hollow container, approximately one thousand three hundred and twenty-one Earths. However, this size could considerably get smaller over time as it is estimated that Jupiter is decreasing in size by at least two centimeters a year.
Jupiter has a total of sixty-three satellites, forty-seven of which are under ten kilometers in diameter. There are 4 Galilean moons called as such because they were discovered by the greatest astronomer of all time, Galileo Galilei.
These four moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, which incidentally, are the lovers of the Greek god Zeus. These Galilean moons together with what is called the Inner Group comprise what are called regular moons.
The other group of moons is classified under irregular moons.
The planet Jupiter has been mentioned in various mythologies on one too many occasion. As a matter of fact, the planet was seen as a symbol of the god Marduk for the ancient Babylonians.
It was the Romans however, that gave the planet its name, derived from their mythological god, Jove. Today, when people are said to be in a jovial mood, they are said to be under the influence of the planet’s astrological influence.
Thursday is also said to be associated with the planet. Thor, who is a deity in Germanic mythology, is closely linked to Jupiter in the same mythology; hence; the interconnection of Thor, Thursday and Jupiter.
To the people of China, Korea and Japan; Jupiter is referred to as the wood star.
The lone spacecraft to ever have orbited Jupiter is the Galileo, which was on the 7th of December 1995. The spacecraft orbited the planet for more than 7 years. There is another mission being set-up by NASA to further study the planet, this time using another spacecraft, Juno.