Museum of Science and Industry

In MSI's Earth Revealed exhibit, which explores our solar system, we get asked this question: What's inside the giant planet Jupiter?

You can hardly miss the outside of the solar system's largest planet, at 1,300 times the volume of Earth. (Something else couldn't miss Jupiter's massive presence: a big explosion seen on Jupiter last week may have been a comet hitting it.)

When it comes to Jupiter's inside, though, no one really knows for sure what's in there. The idea of Jupiter actually having a core is a relatively new theory, made in 1997 based on gravitational measurements. Our best guess now is that Jupiter's core is a dense mix of elements, surrounded by a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen and helium, and an outer layer largely of molecular hydrogen.

But in a few short years, we might know more. Juno, the newest probe by NASA, is headed towards the gas giant. Slated to arrive in 2016, Juno should teach us more about Jupiter's formation and deep structure.

Image: NASA


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