Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In Defense

If you’re like me (don’t you wish), then you don’t consider the universe very often.

You’re also probably self obsessed to the point of narcissism, drink alcohol way more than is healthy for a living human body, and wish every other member of society would stop being so damn annoying. Sadly, those are subjects for another time.

Today I want to defend a forgotten giant living in our midst. Namely Jupiter.

It's purty, too.

You remember Jupiter, right? It’s the one that has moons dancing around it like a bachelor at a strip club. Believe me, if those moons could give Jupiter a naked lap dance, they would. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do.

You can often see Jupiter along the southern sky juuusst as the sun is setting. It’s that bright light that turns out not to be an airplane or traffic helicopter. Most of us know it because it’s the biggest, baddest mother fucker in our solar system. It’s over 300 times as large as Earth and twice as big as all the other planets put together.

Yo, Earth, give me your lunch money!

Yeah, that’s not just big; that’s crap your pants and cry for your momma if you ran into it in a solar system back alley big! In fact, Jupiter actually has a constant, raging, red storm circulating around just to keep things interesting. This ‘Great Red Spot’ may not be constant, but it’s been going strong for 300 years (since it was first discovered) and shows no sign of letting up.

Did I mention the size of that storm is larger than Earth? No? I should probably share that information.

Jupiter is also mostly gas. I don’t mean it consumes a constant diet of bean and raisin burritos, either. Being 90% hydrogen, 10 % helium and 100% bad ass, Jupiter has no solid surface. Before you get all ‘What a wussy, gassy, girly planet’ on me some of that hydrogen is actually metallic hydrogen. I’m fairly certain that means the T-1000 from ‘Terminator 2’ lives there.

And he's STILL pissed

So why am I suddenly singing the praises of Jupiter?

Because Jupiter just may be the body guard of our solar system. It’s massive size and enormous gravity field are sucking in some of those random objects flying through space. Objects like asteroids, ill programmed satellites and comets. Things that Hollywood would have us believe are trying to smash into Earth and kill us all (except Morgan Freeman and not before Tea Leoni reconciles with her father).

While it was presumed this was always the case, it was just recently discovered how powerful an effect Jupiter has on all these interstellar death missiles. Not only does it alter the trajectories but one comet was found to have been stuck in orbit around Jupiter; unable to free itself for TWELVE FUCKING YEARS!!

As Dr. David Asher from the European Planetary Science Congress said, ‘Fortunately for us Jupiter, as the most massive planet with the greatest gravity, sucks objects towards it more readily than other planets and we expect to observe large impacts there more often than on Earth’.

Go Jupiter! It’s your birthday!

Since Bruce Willis is really just a pretty boy actor and not an astronaut willing to die for all of humanity, we should be thanking Jupiter for taking the brunt of these impacts for us.

That goes for you, too, Venus and Mars. Pay some respect or Uranus will be on your ass.

Today’s distraction: Cool Hubble photos of an actual impact on Jupiter’s surface. Thanks, Jupiter!

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