Jupiter's Great Red Spot Imaged Like Never Before


"Now we are finally going to see what this storm looks like up close and personal". The images show a blob of swirling reddish hues in the middle of Jupiter's white clouds.

This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft soaring over Jupiter's south pole.

This was the first ever close analysis of the GRS which took place in the Juno mission. NASA's Juno spacecraft launched in August of 2011 and just completed a flyby of the spot on July 10th. And its most recognizable trademark is its Great Red Spot, which is actually a heat storm of cataclysmic proportions. The little craft entered orbit around Jupiter last July, and has been sending back stunning photos and sounds of the planet since. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, it was passing directly over the anticyclonic storm at a distance of about 9,000 km (5,600 mi); at which time, all eight of its instruments were trained on the feature.

Jupiter is hands down the biggest planet in our Solar System, which also gained it its name.

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute. At this time, it was about 3,500 km (2,200 mi) above Jupiter's cloud tops. "Most scientists believed that as soon as you drop below the sunlit clouds and you got into where the sunlight didn't reach that everything would kind of be uniform and boring".

The Juno spacecraft flew a mere 5,600 miles over the planet's surface, taking images and readings as it did so. "We'll look several hundred kilometers down in this first pass". Scientists announced a few years ago that the Great Red Spot is shrinking - measurements taken in the late 1800s put it at 25,500 miles across, but now the ellipsis has turned more circular, with a length less than half that distance. Keep in mind to share your creations with us in the comments!