NASA's Juno Spacecraft Spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot reveal a tangle of dark clouds weaving their way through a massive crimson oval.
The JunoCam imager aboard NASA's Juno mission snapped pics of the most iconic feature of the solar system's largest planetary inhabitant during its Monday flyby.
"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.
"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.
As planned by the Juno team, citizen scientists took the raw images of the flyby from the JunoCam site and processed them, providing a higher level of detail than available in their raw form.
Measuring in at 10,159 miles (16,350 kilometers) in width (as of April 3, 2017) Jupiter's Great Red Spot is 1.3 times as wide as Earth. The storm has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years. In modern times, the Great Red Spot has appeared to be shrinking.
All of Juno's science instruments and the spacecraft's JunoCam were operating during the flyby, collecting data that are now being returned to Earth. Juno's next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on September 1.
Juno launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet's cloud tops -- as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
Materials of the report have been provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and published in Science Daily.