See 'Best Pictures Ever' of Jupiter's Great Red Spot
NASA's Juno spacecraft captured stunning images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot during its Monday flyby, revealing never-before-seen details of the giant planet's famous feature.
The storm is the largest and most powerful in our solar system and has been monitored since 1830.
"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."
The images were released in a raw format early Wednesday and citizen scientists quickly jumped at the opportunity to process them and provide a higher level of detail.
"I have been following the Juno mission since it launched," Jason Major, a citizen scientist and a graphic designer from Warwick, Rhode Island, said. "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."
The flyby on Monday was the closest any spacecraft has come to the Great Red Spot, which is about 10,159 miles in width, or 1.3 times as wide as Earth.
NASA said Juno passed as close as 2,200 miles above the planet's cloud tops around July 10 at 6:55 p.m. PDT. A little more than 11 minutes later, Juno covered another 24,713 miles and was passing directly above the Great Red Spot itself.
"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. "We are pleased to share the beauty and excitement of space science with everyone."
More information about NASA's Juno mission can be found here.