Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and is the largest planet in the solar system, like the other four outer planets Jupiter is a gas giant. Jupiter is named after the king of the Roman gods – Jupiter has also been known as Zeus the Greek god of thunder and Marduk the Mesopotamian god and patron of the city of Babylon.
Jupiter has been described as its own little solar system because of the vast number of moons orbiting the planet. There are 63 moons around Jupiter, the most of any planet in the solar system. Four in particular, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, are planet sized. In 2003 alone, 23 new moons were discovered. Reasons for this incredible number of moons include the strong gravitational force of the planet at 20.87 m/s2, more than double the gravitational force on Earth, and also the large magnetic field of the planet, which extends into Saturn’s orbit. Like Saturn, Jupiter also has rings, though they are only visible when backlit by the sun and believed to be comprised of dust kicked up from meteor collisions with the four biggest moons.
Image Credit: Steve Albers, NOAA/GSD