NASA Spacecraft Gets Up Close With Jupiter's Great Red Spot


NASA Spacecraft Gets Up Close With Jupiter's Great Red Spot

The flyby of the Juno spacecraft, surveilling the 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm, is scheduled for 9:55 pm Monday (0155 GMT Tuesday). It's so massive that it's even larger than the Earth in diameter, NPR reports.

"Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special", said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio in a press release.

It's lasted a really long time.

Juno is equipped with instruments created to peer through the cloud layers and gather data on the inner workings of Jupiter's atmosphere. For example, the microwave radiometer can peer through the clouds and see what kinds of atmospheric structures underpin the spot. "Until now, we've basically relied on images of the cloud tops".

Along with the Juno probe, Bolton and his colleagues intend to use many other resources available here. Juno has already sent back several rounds of data from Jupiter, but the next one will be particularly fascinating.

This artist's illustration shows Juno's Microwave Radiometer observing deep into Jupiter's atmosphere. The image shows real data from the 6 MWR channels arranged by wavelength. Credit NASA  SwRI  JPL
NASA Spacecraft Gets Up Close With Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Our very first close-up look at the storm came on February 25, 1979, when NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft swung by Jupiter for a gravity assist towards the outer solar system. It's a good thing, too-the Great Red Spot is shrinking fast, and we don't know why. NASA explained that each planned flyby of the Great Red Spot would focus on a different aspect of the mysterious storm.

When will Juno fly over the Great Red Spot?

All eight of Juno's instruments, including its camera, will be on when the spacecraft passes about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds, NASA said.

Juno will pass again over the Great Red Spot again, as the spacecraft orbits once every 53 days around Jupiter. Bolton is confident that the images will not disappoint.

To ensure that the probe collects the best possible scientific data it has to get close to Jupiter.



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