The Giant By Patti Hutchison

1 Caption: Picture of from the

2 , Saturn, , . These are the giant gas planets. Scientists think they are made of small, cores. Their interiors are fluid. Lightweight such as and make up most of their . With all their satellites and ring systems, they are very interesting to observe.

3 Jupiter is the largest . It is the fifth from the . The length of its year is about 4330 days. This is how long it takes for Jupiter to make one revolution around the sun. It spins very fast, however. It takes only about nine Earth hours for Jupiter to make one rotation.

4 Jupiter's diameter is eleven times larger than Earth's. In fact, Jupiter is only ten times smaller than the sun. This makes up about 70 percent of all the planetary matter in our .

5 Jupiter's is made of mostly helium and hydrogen. There are strong winds in its upper atmosphere. These cause violent that rage almost all the time. The is actually a giant . It has been seen for over 300 years.

6 Other interesting features of Jupiter are its and ring. Jupiter has 62 moons. Some are almost as big as planets. One , called , is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Jupiter also has a ring made mostly of dust particles. It is 6400 kilometers wide.

7 Saturn is the first planet known to have rings. The rings exist in a system. These rings are made of pieces of and ice. Scientists believe these particles came from shattered , , or moons. The particle sizes range from microscopic to as large as a house. Saturn has thousands of rings that are the largest and brightest in the solar system. In addition to the rings, Saturn has at least 48 moons orbiting it.

8 Saturn's orbit takes over 29 Earth years to complete. Like Jupiter, however, it spins quickly in space. It takes a little over 10 hours to complete one rotation. Also like Jupiter, Saturn's atmosphere is made of mostly hydrogen and helium. It has violent winds, blowing at over 1100 miles per hour at the equator.

9 Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. Its year is equal to 84 Earth years. Uranus is very large and made of gas. It has no solid surface. Its atmosphere is made up of helium and hydrogen. It also contains , which gives it its bluish color. Seasons last over 20 years on Uranus. Scientists believe this is because it is tipped on its side. Like the other gas planets, it has eleven rings, and it has 27 moons.

10 About 60 could fit inside Neptune, the fourth largest planet in the solar system. Scientists believe it is the windiest planet. Winds blow at over 1200 miles per hour. Large storms rage above the planet. Once, Neptune had a Great Dark Spot as big as Earth. It was a storm that blew across the surface at over 700 miles per hour. It has disappeared, but a new spot is now visible.

11 It takes Neptune 165 Earth years to complete one orbit around the sun. It takes 16 Earth hours to make one rotation. This has six rings and 13 known moons. One of its moons, , orbits backward. Nitrogen geysers have been observed on Triton.

12 Studying the giant gas planets helps us to learn much about the solar system. We can study how the solar system was before the planets formed. Some of these planets' moons show us what the atmosphere was like on Earth before began. Many questions can be answered.

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