Juno spacecraft spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot

July 13, 2017, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This enhanced-color image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft. The image was taken on July 10, 2017 at 07:10 p.m. PDT (10:10 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its 7th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 8,648 miles (13,917 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major

Images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot reveal a tangle of dark, veinous 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 (July 10) flyby. The images of the Great Red Spot were downlinked from the spacecraft's memory on Tuesday and placed on the mission's JunoCam website Wednesday morning.

"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."

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. The citizen-scientist images, as well as the raw images they used for image processing, can be found at: www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing

"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. "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."

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Kevin Gill using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft. The image was taken on July 10, 2017 at 07:07 p.m. PDT (10:07 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its 7th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 6,130 miles (9,866 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin Gill

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 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 Sept. 1.

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 about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, Juno had covered another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers), and was passing directly above the coiling, crimson cloud tops of the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft passed about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the clouds of this iconic feature.

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft. The image is approximately illumination adjusted and strongly enhanced to draw viewers' eyes to the iconic storm and the turbulence around it. The image was taken on July 10, 2017 at 07:07 p.m. PDT (10:07 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its 7th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 6,130 miles (9,866 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt

Juno launched on Aug. 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.

Early science results from NASA's Juno mission portray the largest planet in our solar system as a turbulent world, with an intriguingly complex interior structure, energetic polar aurora, and huge polar cyclones.

"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."

Explore further: Juno spacecraft to fly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot July 10

Related Stories

Image: Crescent Jupiter with the Great Red Spot

January 16, 2017

This image of a crescent Jupiter and the iconic Great Red Spot was created by a citizen scientist (Roman Tkachenko) using data from Juno's JunoCam instrument. You can also see a series of storms shaped like white ovals, known ...

Recommended for you

Is dark matter made of primordial black holes?

April 20, 2018

Astronomers studying the motions of galaxies and the character of the cosmic microwave background radiation came to realize in the last century that most of the matter in the universe was not visible. About 84 percent of ...

NASA engineers dream big with small spacecraft

April 20, 2018

Many of NASA's most iconic spacecraft towered over the engineers who built them: think Voyagers 1 and 2, Cassini or Galileo—all large machines that could measure up to a school bus.

Unveiling the secrets of the Milky Way galaxy

April 20, 2018

A multinational team of astronomers involving the University of Adelaide has catalogued over 70 sources of very high energy gamma rays, including 16 previously undiscovered ones, in a survey of the Milky Way using gamma ray ...

Where is the universe's missing matter?

April 19, 2018

Astronomers using ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory have probed the gas-filled haloes around galaxies in a quest to find 'missing' matter thought to reside there, but have come up empty-handed – so where is it?

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

baudrunner
Jul 13, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
f_darwin
not rated yet Jul 15, 2017
Not that any NASA scientist is interested. based on our information, as I have written before. Jupiter is evolving to become a pro-to star making Earth a two sun planet. gas giant is incorrect. currently it is most volcanic active space body in solar system. it is global with exception of small area of poles. the Ground constantly being resurfaced. beneath the red spot is the biggest and highest. erupting constantly. it varies gradually over very long period. As I have told NASA, Juno dose not have any useful purpose. Just curiosity & big budget project. It should have number of mini satellite and Lander to explore the larger moons. MG1

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.