You may look at pictures of the planet Jupiter in books or online and wonder, just how long would it take to get to Jupiter? Well, the answer actually depends on a variety of factors, including distance, speed, and path.
(If you want to calculate how long it takes to get to stars, planets, and galaxies, try our space travel calculator)
One factor to consider is the orbit of Jupiter and Earth. Since Earth and Jupiter both move in space, the space between them changes all the time. However, regardless of where the Earth and Jupiter are located in their orbit, Jupiter is still very far away. When it is nearest to us in its orbit, Jupiter is about 365 million miles away. When it is furthest away from us, Jupiter is 601 million miles away. That makes the average distance about 483 miles apart. Check out our distance between planets table to learn more about how far apart we are from other planets in the solar system.
How quickly we could get to Jupiter doesn’t only depend on the orbit; it also depends on how fast we are moving too. We first need to consider how fast we are going, or how fast our rocket is going. Let’s assume that our rocket is going at the speed of light, which is 186,282 miles per second. That means it would take around 43 minutes to get to Jupiter if we traveled at the speed of light.
The problem is that we cannot travel at the speed of light, but we can travel to Jupiter in a man-made rocket. We can also send a spacecraft, which is what we have done in the history of space exploration. Back in 1989, scientists sent a spacecraft to Jupiter, and it took a little over six years to reach the planet. The reason the spacecraft took so long is because it did go in a straight path from Earth to Jupiter. In 2006, another spacecraft went on a direct path to Jupiter, and this trip took a little over 13 months.
As you can see from the difference of time between these two crafts, the path of the craft is important. The spacecraft could take a route that is more curved, almost like taking a space detour. This increases the time. The amount of time also depends on how fast the spacecraft is going. The faster the speed of the spacecraft, and the more direct the route, the less travel time it takes.
Therefore, the amount of time it would take to get to Jupiter really depends on how fast you are going, the path you take in space, and where the planets are located in their orbits. Travel to Jupiter can be anywhere between just over 13 months to eight years.