Jupiter is a gas giant, so landing on it will not be like landing on Earth, our Moon or Mars etc., as it does not have a solid surface like these.

If we have a hypothetical spaceship or probe landing on Jupiter, and it can withstand the enormous pressure, what or how will be the sequence of events?

I already read this:

A major problem in sending space probes to Jupiter is that the planet has no solid surface on which to land, as there is a smooth transition between the planet's atmosphere and its fluid interior. Any probes descending into the atmosphere are eventually crushed by the immense pressures within Jupiter.

What I do not understand:

  • Is this enormous or immense pressure of atmosphere or Jupiter's surface?
  • While descending, will we know that we have transitioned from the atmosphere to the surface?
  • Why does animated footage (real or conceptual) of Jupiter appear like a high viscous liquid (e.g. lava) rotating in an opposite direction, rather that gas(es)?
  • Does Jupiter have an inner solid core?

I've already gone through these:


2 Answers 2


Jupiter does not have a "surface" and nor is there anything but an arbitrary division between interplanetary space and where its atmosphere begins.

The crushing pressure is its atmospheric pressure. The deeper into the atmosphere you go, the greater the column of gas that lies above you. It is the weight of this column of gas that is responsible for the rapid increase in pressure with depth.

The answer to your last question is most definitely addressed in the duplicate question about whether Jupiter is entirely made of gas. There is quite likely to be a liquid phase nearer the centre and there may be a solid core of order ten times the mass of the Earth. It is not a settled question.

The gas motions you talk about are essentially belts of weather systems in the upper layers of Jupiter's atmosphere. It is all most definitely gas that you can see.

  • $\begingroup$ Comets hits jupiter from time to time. It's feasible to imagine some solid material from those bolids coalesced in the core. If there are enough rock in the core you can even call it a "surface" $\endgroup$
    – jean
    Jul 8, 2016 at 20:15
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ You forgot to mention it’s a supercritical fluid below the atmosphere. There is no ordinary “liquid” H₂ — 165 K is too hot for it to exist. $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2016 at 17:34

It's worth noting that a probe entering Jupiter's atmosphere is NOT hypothetical:

The orbiter carried a small probe that became the first to sample the atmosphere of a gas planet. The probe measured temperature, pressure, chemical composition, cloud characteristics, sunlight and energy internal to the planet, and lightning. During its 58-minute life, the probe penetrated 124 miles (200 kilometers) into Jupiter's violent atmosphere before it was crushed, melted and/or vaporized by the intense pressure and temperature.


Unfortunately the probe did not carry a camera, so I suppose you could still refer to it as hypothetical based on the principle of pics or it didn't happen.


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