How It Works

Jupiter’s gravity


Jupiter is the largest and most massive planet in the Solar System, so it should come as no surprise that it also has a huge effect on pretty much everything in its vicinity. Indeed gravity on this gas giant is approximately two and a half times that experienced on Earth, but what does that really mean in space terms?

Each celestial object exerts an influence on its surroundings through what is known as its gravity well. If you are on the surface of the body, you are said to be at the bottom of its gravity well. The bigger the well the harder it is to get off the object. To escape you need to travel over a certain velocity; a few of the numbers have been crunched here.

sunflame_soho_big Credit SOHO_EIT Consortium-ESA-NASASun
Escape velocity: 2.22mn km/h
Everything in the Solar System orbits the Sun and is directly influenced by it. Its gravitational well extends throughout the Solar System.





Escape velocity: 40,230km/h
Compared to Jupiter, Earth’s gravitational pull is pretty tiny. It has just one satellite, the Moon, though it does exert an influence on passing asteroids too.





Escape velocity: 8,610km/h
The Moon finds itself inside Earth’s gravity well. So, even if you left the lunar surface, you would be immediately drawn towards our planet.





Mars cover image flat2



Escape velocity: 17,990km/h
The relatively weak gravitational pull of Mars has seen it gather just two tiny moons: Phobos and Deimos. It is thought that Jupiter stopped the Red Planet attracting any larger objects, instead stealing them for itself.





Escape velocity: 214,200km/h
Sometimes called the Solar System’s vacuum cleaner, Jupiter has a huge effect on everything around it. It has at least 67 moons, including the four large Galilean moons, and it is often impacted by space rocks that it sucks in from the outer Solar System.