Space has lots of different things in it. Planets, nebulas, asteroids, the list goes on. So what would happen if we got rid of a single planet?
Specifically, our largest planet Jupiter? How important is this gas giant to our solar system?
How would it affect life on Earth? And how would this change Earth’s development?
If Jupiter was no longer in our solar system, having one less planet to aspire to travel to would be the last thing we’d have to worry about. The gas giant ranges from 600 to 1,000 million km (373 million mi) away from Earth.
Despite it being so far away from us, we’d experience direct implications right here on Earth. But why is this?
Well, to say that we’d notice Jupiter’s absence here on Earth is a bit of an understatement. This is due to Earth not being around, at least in the current state, as we know it today.
Sure, it would still be some sort of planet, but it’s very unlikely there would be any complex life-forms – no fish, animals, and certainly no humans. Earth has been hit by tons of asteroids and other space rocks. They may have brought water and other essential substances down to Earth, according to some experts.
So although some asteroids can be good, there’s plenty of bad ones. Some would be big enough to wipe out entire civilizations, just like what happened with the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.
This is where Jupiter’s role comes in. Although it’s slipped up a couple of times throughout the history of our Solar System, Jupiter has been protecting us.
As millions of asteroids have been heading towards Earth, Jupiter’s gravitational pull has grabbed the asteroids. This puts them in Jupiter’s orbit and unable to reach Earth.
Without our giant protector, Earth would be hit by a lot more asteroids. And it’s unlikely another planet would step in to fill Jupiter’s place, considering the gas giant is the only planet big enough to attract all these space rocks.
This means Earth would get hit by thousands more asteroids than it ever has before. Some would be small and could maybe help Earth, bringing us new elements. But it’s possible Earth would get hit by a couple of big ones, enough to destroy anything that would be evolving on the planet, and maybe enough to destroy Earth itself.
So we know we probably wouldn’t be here if Jupiter had never existed, but what if it suddenly disappeared today? Our Solar System would have developed in the exact same way, but Jupiter suddenly blinked out of existence.
Despite it being our protector, occasionally, Jupiter messes up and might miss a couple of things. Jupiter threw a comet towards us 350 years ago. Luckily it still managed to miss us, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near Earth in the first place if it wasn’t for Jupiter.
Despite Jupiter occasionally throwing some space rocks our way, it’s largely helped us throughout history. So it’s probably best to let Jupiter stay in our galaxy.
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