NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Spots Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

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:

https://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.”

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 science instruments 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.

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.”  

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator,
Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed
by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama,
for the Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space
Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of
Caltech in Pasadena. More information on the Juno mission is
available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno

http://missionjuno.org

The public can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

https://www.facebook.com/NASAJuno

https://www.twitter.com/NASAJuno

More information on the Great Red Spot can be found at:


https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/jupiter-s-great-red-spot-a-swirling-mystery


https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jupiter-s-great-red-spot-likely-a-massive-heat-source

More information on Jupiter can be found at:

https://www.nasa.gov/jupiter

News Media Contact

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011 / 818-354-6278
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

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