NASA’s Juno spacecraft is getting ready for the closest fly over Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot on July 10.
Gas giant’s iconic Great Red Spot is a 10,000 miles wide (16,000 kilometers wide) storm. This will be the first up-close and personal view of the gigantic feature. A storm monitored since 1830 and thought to exist for more than 350 years.
Previously the Voyager and Galileo missions helped us understand where this giant storm comes from. Next week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will come closer to the furious storm than any spacecraft ever has before.
“Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter,” Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, said in a statement. He continued “Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special.”
Juno’s data collection.
The data collection of the Great Red Spot is part of Juno’s sixth science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops. Perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s center) will be on Monday, July 10, at 6:55 p.m. PDT (9:55 p.m. EDT). At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops.
Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, Juno will have covered another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers). It will be directly above the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. The spacecraft will pass about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds. All eight of the spacecraft’s instruments as well as its imager, JunoCam, will be on during the flyby.
Bolton believes the cameras will send back stunning images, since the spacecraft is already sending back remarkable shots of other parts of the gas giant.
Juno’s photos of Jupiter’s swirling clouds are particularly stunning.
An incredible image of Jupiter’s south pole, captured by the Juno spacecraft. Scientists hope the spacecraft will send back equally stunning images of the Great Red Spot. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles
“The success of science collection at Jupiter is a testament to the dedication, creativity and technical abilities of the NASA-Juno team,” said Rick Nybakken, project manager for Juno from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Each new orbit brings us closer to the heart of Jupiter’s radiation belt, but so far the spacecraft has weathered the storm of electrons surrounding Jupiter better than we could have ever imagined.”
It’s been a full year since Juno has been in orbit around Jupiter. The probe was learning about planet’s clouds, auroras, and structure, and beaming home amazing views of the giant planet.