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The planet I would like to visit if I had my own spacecraft | Hiranga B. Suraweera | Kandy, Sri Lanka

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Do you know the largest planet in our solar system? Yes, it is Jupiter. You might be thinking that I would want to visit this planet just because it is the largest one. Well, you are wrong! Jupiter is a Jovian planet, which means, unlike our Earth, it is primarily made up of gas, especially hydrogen, helium and other chemical compounds such as methane, ammonia and water. It would be interesting to explore the atmosphere of Jupiter and its swirling clouds of gas.

I would first be flying through clouds of ammonia. The gravity of Jupiter would be so strong, that my spacecraft would be descending through these clouds 2 ½ times faster than towards the Earth. Below these ammonium clouds would be layers of ammonium hydrosulfide and ammonium sulfide, which start at about 2 atmospheres of pressure. The sun’s light would slowly start to decrease as I go further below.

Suddenly, I would encounter rapid flashes of lighting which are from a thunderstorm coming from clouds of ice and water. Once I pass this, the pressure would become so intense. After a very long time of sinking, the atmosphere would become thicker, sinking my spacecraft further into the abyss, reaching the metallic region. At this stage, Hydrogen would have become metal, forming a surface. This would be where I would have to land my spacecraft. It would be a strange experience to see metallic hydrogen, because on Earth, it is a gas.

What would I possibly see on my ascent from the core of Jupiter? I would see the Great Red Spot which is full of winds and hurricanes. I would very likely see the moons of Jupiter during my ascent – there are 79 of them. I am very sure I would see Ganymede – the largest moon of Jupiter, and Io – which has lots of volcanoes erupting continuously. Jupiter also has Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis because the planet has an immense magnetic field, much stronger than Earth. I would be able to see them in the north and south poles of Jupiter as I exit this magnificent planet and make my journey towards Earth.

Would there ever be a day that we human beings will be able to visit Jupiter? Let us see and hope for the best!

By – Hiranga B. Suraweera
(12 years)
Kandy, Sri Lanka

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