For example, Jupiter is the reason why there’s an asteroid belt – and not another planet – between it and Mars. Jupiter has also catapulted countless comets out to the edge of the solar system. Like a gatekeeper, Jupiter has safeguarded Earth from many comet impacts
The planets are the leftovers from the star-forming process, and Jupiter accounts for the bulk of that material – more – more than twice that of all the other planets combined. Its atmosphere – predominantly hydrogen and helium – is similar to the composition of the sun and other stars as well as the clouds of gas and dust in our galaxy.
When the sun was born – when it accumulated enough mass for nuclear fusion to ignite – it generated a wind that blew away most of the gas and dust that still remained. The fact that Jupiter’s composition is similar to that of the original cloud suggests that it formed early on, before the wind could clear away that material.
To give you an idea of how dominant Jupiter is, an alien observing our solar system through a telescope would see an average yellow star and Jupiter with three other large planets. Earth and the inner planets would appear merely as debris.
Orbiting so close to the sun, Mercury is constantly hammered by heat and solar wind.
Venus’s atmosphere traps heat, producing surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead.
The only planet we know to harbor life, Earth is also the only one covered with liquid water.
The Red Planet once had an active core and magnetic field like Earth.
Probably the first planet to form, Jupiter holds clues about the origin of the solar system.
Famous for its magnificent rings, Saturn is made out of the same materials as Jupiter.
Uranus’s axis is tilted to almost 90 degrees, giving it the most extreme seasons in the solar system.
Neptune’s winds are among the fiercest in the solar system, blowing at over 1,000 miles per hour.