Halbedel, Elaine M. Corralitos Observatory, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Last reviewed:September 2018
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- Great Red Spot
- Interior composition and structure
- Jovian ring
- Other satellites
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The largest planet in the solar system and the fifth in order of distance from the Sun. Named after the king of the gods in Roman mythology, Jupiter is a type of planet called a gas giant, composed largely of hydrogen and helium. The world is distinguished by its colorful bands of clouds, known as belts and zones, as well as storm systems including the famous Great Red Spot, observed by humans through telescopes going back centuries (Fig. 1). The planet is easily visible to the unaided eye except for short periods when in near conjunction with the Sun. Usually it is the second brightest planet in the sky; only Mars at its maximum luminosity and Venus appear brighter. Jupiter was first studied up close by the Voyager spacecraft in the late 1970s. Remote studies have been conducted by myriad instruments, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, with further detailed characterization of the gas giant and its extensive system of moons conducted by the Galileo orbiter and probe (from 1995 to 2003) and the Juno spacecraft (since 2016). See Table 1. for planetary and orbital characteristics of Jupiter. See also: Galileo mission; Hubble Space Telescope; Mars; Planet; Solar system; Sun; Venus
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