SUMMARY: The jovian planets space essentially huge balls of gas, each surrounded by many moons and rings.

You are watching: The most obvious difference between the terrestrial and the jovian planets is

Sections:CompositionRotationMoons and also RingsWhy therefore different?AtmospheresInteriorsRelated linksRelated Lessons:Jupiter"s loved one SizeThe good Red clues PinwheelCan Photosynthesis take place at Saturn?Patterns and also FingerprintsUsing Spectral Data To discover Saturn and also Titan

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune jointly make up the group known together the jovian planets. The general structures of the jovian planets room opposite those that the terrestrial planets. Quite than having thin atmospheres about relatively big rocky bodies, the jovian planets have relatively small, thick cores surrounded by massive great of gas. Made virtually entirely that hydrogen and helium, this planets execute not have solid surfaces.

The Jovian Planets(click to enlarge)
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How Rotation Affects world Shapes(click come enlarge)

Unlike the spherical shapes of terrestrial planets, the jovian planets room all slightly oblong. The jovian planets turn much faster than any kind of of the terrestrial worlds. Gravity by itself would make a world spherical, however their rapid rotation flattens out their spherical shapes by flinging product near the equator outward.

Observations of clouds at various latitudes suggest that the jovian planets turn at various speeds close to their equators than close to their poles.JOVIAN "DAYS"Jupiter : 10 hoursSaturn : 10 hoursUranus : 16-17 hoursNeptune : 16-17 hours

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After size, possibly the many noticeable difference in between the jovian and also terrestrial planets requires moons and also rings. The terrestrial planets are almost isolated worlds, through only earth (1 moon) and also Mars (2 moons) orbited by any type of moons in ~ all. In contrast, many moons and also rings orbit every of the jovian planets.

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All four jovian planets have rings, although only Saturn"s ring are conveniently visible from Earth. Rings are composed the countless small pieces that rock and also ice, each orbiting its planet like a tiny moon. The ring look flat since the particles every orbit in basically the exact same plane. The ring are located closer to the planets than any type of of your moderately size or big moons, but the inner sheet of the ring is tho well above the planet"s cloud tops.


Jupiter through its moons Europa (closest in) and Callisto aligned with the planet"s center.(click come enlarge)