/ Modified jul 23, 2019 3:28 p.m.

NOVA The Planets: Jupiter

Jupiter's massive gravitational force has made it both a wrecking ball and a protector of Earth.

With stunning bands of swirling gas, and its iconic Great Red Spot, Jupiter is a marvel to behold. But this marble-like gas giant—the largest planet in the solar system—has a dramatic past. As a young planet, Jupiter went on a rampage through the solar system. As it sped inward toward the Sun, its massive gravitational force hurled debris into interstellar space, stunting the growth of would-be planets. Earth might have been doomed had Saturn not pulled Jupiter back. But it also shaped life on Earth, delivering comets laden with water—and perhaps even the fateful asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Today, Jupiter resides in the outer solar system, where its gravity bends the paths of asteroids and stokes volcanic activity on its moon Io. But could it one day wreak havoc on its fellow planets again.

NOVA: The Planets, Wednesday at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona