Juno gets up close and personal with Jupiter's Great Red Spot [astronomy.com]
Jupiter's Great Red Spot is one of its most iconic features. The giant storm, which has been raging in the atmosphere of the gas giant for at least hundreds of years, is larger than Earth and can be seen easily even with an amateur telescope. But despite its size and prominence, the Great Red Spot is a mystery that continues to intrigue planetary scientists. Now, NASA's Juno probe has returned the best ever images of the Great Red Spot, following its most recent close flyby of our solar system's largest planet July 10.
The pictures the probe returned are stunning. As it passed over the Great Red Spot at a height of 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers), Juno's imaging camera, JunoCam, snapped several apple core-shaped photos of the feature in optical light. But pretty pictures weren't Juno's only goal; all of the spacecraft's eight additional instruments recorded data during the flyby as well. Those instruments include a magnetometer, a radio and plasma wave sensor, a microwave radiometer, and an ultraviolet spectrograph. By combining the multi-wavelength data from these state-of-the-art instruments, scientists can create a more complete model of the storm than ever before.
"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, in a press release [nasa.gov].
Previously: Juno to Image Jupiter's Great Red Spot on July 10th [soylentnews.org]