Jupiter Red Spot Storm Pictures: NASA's Juno Spacecraft Sends Back Photos

Jupiter Red Spot Storm Pictures: NASA's Juno Spacecraft Sends Back Photos

Jupiter Red Spot Storm Pictures: NASA's Juno Spacecraft Sends Back Photos

The close fly-by was completed during Juno's sixth scientific orbit of the solar system's biggest planet.

The red spot has been continuously monitored from Earth since about 1830, though observations believed to have been of the same feature date back more than 350 years.

Juno celebrated its first anniversary in Jupiter orbit on July 4.

For the first time in history, NASA has taken close up images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

The 16,000-kilometer-wide storm appears as an angry red eye full of whorls and swirls.

Though the storm has been blowing since the Renaissance, it's shown signs of shrinking in recent years. The orbiter squeaked by Jupiter at a distance of around 2,200 miles, and captured its photos of the Great Red Spot at an altitude of around 5,600 miles. Juno would end up about 5,600 miles above the Great Red Spot's clouds about twelve minutes later.

Raw images from the spacecraft's latest flyby will be posted in coming days, NASA said.

Likewise, no one knows why the Great Red Spot has shrunk over the past several decades, becoming more circular than oval, whether the reduction is a transient phenomenon or an indicator that the storm may be dissipating.

"This monumental storm has raged on the solar system's biggest planet for centuries".

All eight of Juno's instruments, including its camera, were to be on when the spacecraft passed about 9,000km above the Giant Red Spot clouds, Nasa said.

We may finally begin to get some answers about this spot.

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute. Now, people can see the closest ever view of the massive storm for themselves.

Juno reached perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter's center) on July 10 at 6:55 p.m. PDT (9:55 p.m. EDT). At the time of perijove, Juno was 3,500 kilometres above the planet's cloud tops.

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