• Shreya Rathi

What would it be like to fall inside the Jupiter?

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

First things first: Jupiter has no true surface! Being a gas giant, the planet is mostly swirling gases and liquids. Mostly, this giant planet is a mystery but if you wanted to explore it for yourself imagine you decided to fall onto (rather into) this planet, what would happen? Well, If you are scared of height, I am warning you that this might be disturbing!

Before hopping on for this journey, you need to take 2 things along with you. One, a spacesuit designed especially for Jupiter (If you would dare to go in the spacesuits we already have, you would probably be dead around 3,00,000 kilometres before you could even make it to the planet) and second, a pair of heavy boots (you’ll get to know why)!

At first, you would be falling at 1,80,000 km per hour (roughly 20 TIMES FASTER THAN THE AIRPLANE). The excessive speed is because Jupiter’s gravity is much stronger than Earth and the rate of descent is 2.5x faster. For a couple of seconds, you would be able to see the sun, but after 250 km you would reach the ammonia clouds and then the temperature drops! (to around -150 C). The ammonia clouds are going to look like an overclouded and darkened day on Earth. After crossing two of these cloud decks, it becomes dark. And amongst this darkness, get prepared for your life’s epic whirlpool! Jupiter being the fastest planet in the solar system (with days roughly equal to 10 Earth Hour), creates powerful winds - up to 480 km per hour. If you haven’t died of heart attack yet, Congratulations! You just made the Guinness Book World of Records for completing the nature’s most scary roller coaster!

Now, let’s go about 120 km MORE DOWN AND, if you are still alive, second congratulations are in order because you just became the first to go this deep into Jupiter exploration. NASA’s Galileo Probe could not go further down because it was destroyed with the excessive atmospheric pressure, but don't worry, the customized spacesuit is protecting you. You just keep falling and falling, it becomes darker and darker until it is pitch black.

Now, comes the twist: beneath you, there are white clouds forming huge thunderstorms, with the darkness punctuated by bright flashes of lightning. At this point, the temperature starts to become warm, and it might even feel comfortable if it weren’t for the immense physical pressure you’ll be feeling. By now it’s been 12 hours since you have been falling, and if you are anything like me: you’d probably get bored! You try to contact someone using a radio wave to get you out, but being so deep inside Jupiter, radio waves are going to get absorbed and not going to do you any good.

Ugh! You have no other option, than to go with the flow. The more you fall, the warmer it becomes, and so will the pressure until you reach the inner layers of Jupiter. Don’t worry you don’t have to fall anymore. You can swim now! Did you think about this plot twist? The atmosphere becomes thick and it is no longer a liquid or a gas but rather a ‘supercritical fluid’. Your body would naturally stop falling and settle out somewhere at this level, where your density and the atmosphere's density are equal. But don’t worry YOU won’t be stuck. You bought your heavy boots with you after all!

After a very, very long time of falling through the excessive pressure and heat, you can spot the atmosphere to become so warm that it begins to glow: red-hot at first, then yellow-hot, and finally white-hot. This would be a great time to say, that you have successfully completed 30% of your trip (Kind of a bummer, don’t you think?) Well, it’s THE largest planet in the Solar System, no one said falling into it would be easy?

Here is where the exploration becomes kind of a monotonous: it is a hot glowing sea of liquid metal and this is a big if, IF you survive it, you’ll be falling and falling and falling and falling until you complete 80% of your journey! Down from this, you would suddenly find your boots hitting the so-called “solid surface” and once again for the last time, CONGRATULATIONS you are stuck on this planet forever! All this atmospheric pressure, will not let you return back to Earth!

Well, it is not really a very promising a trip!? Maybe, it would be better to leave this planet as a mystery, for our future generations to solve!

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