Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium, though helium comprises only about a tenth of the number of molecules. It may also have a rocky core of heavier elements, but like the other giant planets, Jupiter lacks a well-defined solid surface. Because of its rapid rotation, the planet's shape is that of an oblate spheroid (it has a slight but noticeable bulge around the equator). The outer atmosphere is visibly segregated into several bands at different latitudes, resulting in turbulence and storms along their interacting boundaries. A prominent result is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century when it was first seen by telescope. Surrounding Jupiter is a faint planetary ring system and a powerful magnetosphere. Jupiter has 79 known moons, including the four large Galilean moons discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede, the largest of these, has a diameter greater than that of the planet Mercury.
Jupiter has been explored on several occasions by robotic spacecraft, most notably during the early Pioneer and Voyagerflyby missions and later by the Galileo orbiter. In late February 2007, Jupiter was visited by the New Horizons probe, which used Jupiter's gravity to increase its speed and bend its trajectory en route to Pluto. The latest probe to visit the planet is Juno, which entered into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Future targets for exploration in the Jupiter system include the probable ice-covered liquid ocean of its moon Europa.
Astronomers have discovered nearly 500 planetary systems with multiple planets. Regularly these systems include a few planets with masses several times greater than Earth's (super-Earths), orbiting closer to their star than Mercury is to the Sun, and sometimes also Jupiter-mass gas giants close to their star.
Earth and its neighbor planets may have formed from fragments of planets after collisions with Jupiter destroyed those super-Earths near the Sun. As Jupiter came toward the inner Solar System, in what theorists call the grand tack hypothesis, gravitational tugs and pulls occurred causing a series of collisions between the super-Earths as their orbits began to overlap.
Jupiter moving out of the inner Solar System would have allowed the formation of inner planets, including Earth.