NASA’s Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot on July 10, during its sixth science orbit.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first photos from its close flyby over Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot. With the help of its active instruments and JunoCam who were operating all the time, the probe sent data back to Earth.
Juno’s signals made it back to Earth in about 45 minutes. So, the spacecraft successfully phoned home after its close flyby, which took it to within about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) of the storm’s clouds.
Juno’s elliptical orbit around the planet takes the probe close to the surface for a few hours every 53 days. Astronomers call this a perijove pass — and on July 10th, Juno completed its seventh.
“For generations, people from all over the world and all walks of life have marveled over the Great Red Spot,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Now we are finally going to see what this storm looks like up close and personal.”
What Juno caught with its cameras.
Immediately after its closest approach, Juno’s camera, JunoCam, snapped a few shots of the storm from about 5,000 miles above.
Footage Credit: NASA / SwRI / MSSS
The Great Red Spot is a 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm that has been monitored since 1830. Also, it has possibly existed for more than 350 years. In modern times, the Great Red Spot has appeared to be shrinking.
However, NASA has opened up the process to the public: space fans can weigh in on the photos JunoCam shoots by ranking their favorite points of interest. People can crop them, assemble them into collages, and change or enhance the colors. The results are mesmerizing, so here’s our pick:
Juno launched in 2011 and reached orbit at Jupiter in July 2016 on a mission to learn more about the massive gas giant’s origin, evolution, atmosphere, and structure. This close-up look at the Giant Red Spot should help clear up some of the mystery around the raging storm.
You can find a lot more photos from the Great Red Spot here. Juno’s next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on Sept. 1.