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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.

And there are more missions to come. Congress may legally require 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 are 10 photos of Jupiter taken by NASA spacecraft that flew by or orbited the planet.