NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently completed a fly-by of Jupiter‘s great red spot, on July 10th. It was our closest orbit of the giant storm to date.
Raw images from the fly-by have since been posted on the JunoCam site and have begun to be processed by citizen scientists and amateur photoshop artists around the world. Our image above comes to you from citizen scientist Jason Major, a graphic designer from Warwick, Rhode Island.
“For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,”
The great red spot has always been a spot of intrigue for researchers. It’s a storm that has raged for over 350 years with no apparent end in site. It 10,159 miles (16,350 kilometers) wide, and has been monitored since 1830. “For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” says Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “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.”
Perijove is the point at which an orbit come’s closest to Jupiter’s center. Juno reached Perijove on July 10th, at from 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud surface. Once it had reached this point, it traversed 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers) in eleven minutes to rest 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the great red spot.
The Juno mission began with a launch on August 5th 2011. Since it’s launch from Cape Canaveral we’ve studied Jupiter’s cloud tops, it’s auroras, planetary origins, structure, atmosphere and more. Today we see Jupiter as a complex world with significant weather patterns and a mysterious interior structure. Thanks to Juno, we know more about the planet than we ever have, and will continue to glean new interesting facts from the largest planet in our solar system.
“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,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “We are pleased to share the beauty and excitement of space science with everyone.”