Earth May Exist Because Jupiter Does
Shuttle space trips may be over, but spacecraft launches are still going on, and on August 5th, NASA launched the spacecraft Juno, which will explore Jupiter’s secrets. Astronomers think that the presence of Jupiter may help explain how the Earth came to exist.
Jupiter is huge–the rest of our solar system would fit inside it, with room to spare. Scientists think that large planets like this, in an outer orbit, absorb some of the blows from asteroids that might otherwise destroy smaller, inner planets (like Earth), so they are on the lookout for solar systems that contain Jupiter-like planets.