Juno probe completes historic Great Red Spot flyby

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Juno probe completes historic Great Red Spot flyby

Scientists say the Great Red Spot is a big storm, twice as wide as Earth, which has been churning on Jupiter for at least 150 years.

Juno launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. As per the modern belief, this spot appears to be shrinking.

The storm looks like a churning red knot on the planet's surface. At the time of perijove, Juno was about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops.

The hope is that Juno's findings will help to unlock the mysteries around the Great Red Spot's existence - what formed it in the first place, how has it been raging for so long, and why is it red?

Juno got to within 9,000km of the Great Red Spot.

Juno, a spacecraft built at Lockheed Martin's Littleton facility, took the photos July 10 during its closest flyby, when it was only 5,600 miles above the swirling clouds.

One of the clearest images of the Great Red Spot was taken on June 26th, 1996 by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

Still, the spot remains the most prominent characteristic of the solar system's largest planet, a gargantuan ball of gas - mostly hydrogen and helium - 11 times the diameter of Earth with more than twice as much mass as all the other planets combined. "Submit your images to Juno_outreach@jpl.nasa.gov to be featured on the Mission Juno website!".

In the meantime, enjoy the latest batch of images provided by Juno, and the savvy photo editors who turned the craft's raw image data into stunning pictures. Scientists are especially eager to learn how far down into the atmosphere the huge storm might extend.

The spacecraft has changed the way we understand and see Jupiter's storms and given us new views of its auroras. "We'll search for lightning, signals of maybe water clouds or ammonia ice coming up through this region, we just don't know what to expect".

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