Juno captures the Great Red Spot

NASA's Juno spacecraft has completed a flyby over Jupiter's Great Red Spot, revealing the planet's swirling storm in greater detail than we have ever seen.

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An enhanced-colour image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot processed by citizen scientist Jason Major using data captured by the Juno spacecraft’s JunoCam. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major

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Twisting, swirling clouds wind through Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in new images captured by the Juno spacecraft during its recent close fly over the planet’s huge storm.

Juno made a close pass over the Great Red Spot in the early hours of 11 July BST, and managed to take the most detailed images of Jupiter’s famous feature that scientists have ever seen.

“For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” says Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator.

Credit : NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran
Credit : NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

“Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm.

It will take us some time to analyze all the data from not only JunoCam, but Juno’s eight science instruments, to shed some new light on the past, present and future of the Great Red Spot.”

16,350 km wide, the Great Red Spot is a huge storm that is about 1.3 times as wide as Earth.

It has been monitored since 1830 and may have been raging for over 350 years.

During the flyover, Juno passed about 9,000 km above the Great Red Spot’s cloud tops.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin Gill
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin Gill

“These highly-anticipated images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot are the ‘perfect storm’ of art and science.

With data from Voyager, Galileo, New Horizons, Hubble and now Juno, we have a better understanding of the composition and evolution of this iconic feature,” says Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science.

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“We are pleased to share the beauty and excitement of space science with everyone.”