Jupiter's Effect on the Solar System

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    Jupiter's Early Activity

    • When the solar system was still forming, Jupiter moved towards the sun and back out again to its current position, adding mass to the asteroid belt and making Mars a smaller planet than it may have been otherwise, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Jupiter and Saturn both got caught in the currents of gases flowing around the sun and were getting drawn towards it. Eventually the process reversed itself and Jupiter and Saturn settled further away from the sun.

    Mars and the Asteroid Belt

    • When Jupiter moved towards the sun and occupied the inner solar system, it made Mars a smaller planet. Jupiter dissipated material available for making planets, leaving Mars with less material to accumulate during its formation. Jupiter also affected the asteroid belt, which is known as the region of the solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, where most asteroids are found. As Jupiter moved away from the sun, it encountered a colder region of space and deflected icy objects backward into the asteroid belt as it also edged the entire asteroid belt to the inner solar system. As a result, the asteroid belt contains rocky objects from the inner solar system and icy objects from the outer solar system.

    Liquid Metallic Hydrogen

    • Jupiter, discovered in 1610 by Galileo, is composed of 90 percent hydrogen, 10 percent helium and traces of methane, ammonia, water and a rock-type substance. The bulk of the planet consists of liquid metallic hydrogen. Liquid metallic hydrogen is created from ionized protons and electrons that are compressed at extremely high pressures. It is similar to the liquid metallic hydrogen in the sun, but exists at far lower temperatures. It is the liquid metallic hydrogen that creates such a powerful "magnetosphere" around Jupiter.

    Jupiter's Magnetic Force

    • Jupiter radiates more energy into space than it receives from the sun. It's magnetosphere extends a few million kilometers towards the sun, and Jupiter's four moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, or the Galilean satellites, are contained with in it. The environment near Jupiter contains high levels of energetic particles, a type of radiation, trapped by Jupiter's magnetic field. Although six spacecrafts have ventured to explore Jupiter, and it is still being monitored by the Hubble Telescope, if penetrated, the magnetic field would be immediately fatal to a human being. NASA is planning a mission named Juno, expected to launch in 2011, that will study Jupiter in depth from a polar orbit. Those on the Juno mission will examine Jupiter's chemistry, atmosphere, interior structure and magnetosphere.

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