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12 amazing images of Jupiter

By: Katherine Butler on March 28, 2017, 10:05 a.m.

Photo: NASA

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Meet your distant neighbor

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and the fifth from the sun. The gas giant is 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets circling our sun. The planet was named for the Roman god Jupiter, who ruled over laws and social order.

Thanks to several missions by NASA — including the Juno orbiter, the Voyager and Cassini flybys, the Galileo orbiter and the Hubble telescope — we're able to understand our biggest planetary neighbor as never before.

Though the timing is murky, there are likely to be more missions to come. At one point, there was talk of Congress legally requiring NASA to launch a pair of missions to Jupiter as soon as 2022 and 2024 to study Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Why Europa? Previous missions confirmed Europa is covered in a shell of bright white ice, and the surface is fractured and frequently resurfaced, meaning there's likely a deep ocean of water underneath. And where there's water, there may be life.

In the meantime, here's a collection photos of Jupiter taken by NASA spacecraft that have flown by or orbited the planet.