jupiter planet gas giant jupiter planet gas giant Swirling clouds form on the north side of Jupiter's surface. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)

We just discovered something new about Jupiter's mysterious stripes

American space probe Juno is uncovering secrets about our solar system's favorite gas giant planet.

If you haven't seen Jupiter in a while, take a good look. Remember those colorful stripes wrapped around it like ribbons on a present?

Scientists have been wondering about said stripes for a while. They didn't know whether those pretty features sank far into the ground or if they were merely, ahem, skin deep.

Thanks to Juno, the American space probe traveling around the giant planet, we now know the answer. A team of international scientists just published a paper showing that these stripes go deep. They dig almost 2,000 miles down.

In addition to being nice from an "I'm totally going to impress people with this fact" perspective, this finding tells us a lot about the gas giant. We learned, for instance, that Jupiter's atmosphere makes up a pretty large portion of the planet — around 1 percent of the planet's mass.

juno flying above jupiter Juno is taking photos above the gas giant planet. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

That may not sound like a lot, but Jupiter is literally massive. We're talking 1 percent of a planet 300 times more massive than Earth. Even if you hollowed out the entire Earth, you couldn't fit Jupiter's atmosphere inside.

“Jupiter’s atmosphere is many times greater than anything we have seen before,” said Yohai Kaspi, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and one of the researchers who worked on the study.

The scientists will keep trying to learn more about the gas giant planet. Does it have a rocky core? And if so, do aliens live there?

"It is in our DNA, our makeup as human beings, to have a curiosity to expand our knowledge and to explore beyond the present limits," Buzz Aldrin, one of the first people to walk on the moon, once told From The Grapevine. "It is an inevitable mark of progress."


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Space