NASA has officially released images of Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot’ after its Juno spacecraft completed its July 10 flyby of the solar’s system’s largest planet. These images, which give a never-before seen closeup of the planet Jupiter, show the Great Red Spot is a “massive crimson oval,” with a cloud system over it, according to NASA’s press statement.
Juno Mission’s images are taken by the JunoCam imager, which is on board the NASA Juno spacecraft, and these images were sent by the spacecraft to mission control. NASA downloaded these from the spacecraft’s memory on Tuesday.
“For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a press statement “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,” he added.
The reason, Jupiter’s Great Spot is such a big deal for NASA scientists is that it storm in question has been existed for more than 350 years. NASA says the storm has been monitored since the year 1830, but adds that the Great Red Spot appears to be shrinking. The Great Red Spot is much, much bigger than planet Earth, and according to NASA this measures 10,159 miles (16,350 kilometers) in width. In size, this is 1.3 times as wide as Earth, explains the US Space agency.
“I have been following the Juno mission since it launched,” said Jason Major, a JunoCam citizen scientist and a graphic designer from Warwick, Rhode Island in NASA’s press statement. “It is always exciting to see these new raw images of Jupiter as they arrive. But it is even more thrilling to take the raw images and turn them into something that people can appreciate. That is what I live for.”
NASA says that all of the science instruments were operational during Juno’s flyby of Jupiter’s Great Red Sport, and the data collected by these is now being sent to earth. NASA will examine the data and will possibly reveal more about the planet and its Great Red Spot in the future. Also, the next close flyby of Jupiter for Juno Spacecraft will take place on September 1.
NASA revealed that as part of the flyby Juno spacecraft passed about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the clouds of this iconic feature. As part of the mission, Juno is studying the cloud systems on Jupiter to understand more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, says NASA.
“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 in a press statement.