The Juno spacecraft will be flying its closest to Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot on July 10 to give us some of the most awesome photos of the planet ever.
NASA revealed that the Juno spacecraft will be flying directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, the gas giant’s iconic, 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm. This will be the first time when we are this close to the Great Red Spot as Juno gives us a front row seat during this important manoeuvre. The spacecraft will be capturing a great deal of information as it flies over the storm that we have been monitoring since 1830 and possibly existing for more than 350 years.
The great storm on Jupiter has raged on for centuries and while scientists have been monitoring it, 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. This mission will be a part of Juno’s sixth science flyby of the gas giant’s mysterious cloud tops.
According to the space agency, perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s center) will be on Monday, July 10, at 6:55 pm PDT (9:55 pm EDT). At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, Juno will have covered another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers) and will be directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. The spacecraft will pass about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds. All eight of the spacecraft’s instruments as well as its imager, JunoCam, will be on during the flyby.
“The success of science collection at Jupiter is a testament to the dedication, creativity and technical abilities of the NASA-Juno team,” said Rick Nybakken, project manager for Juno from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Each new orbit brings us closer to the heart of Jupiter’s radiation belt, but so far the spacecraft has weathered the storm of electrons surrounding Jupiter better than we could have ever imagined.”
On July 4 at 7:30 pm PDT (10:30 pm EDT), Juno will have logged exactly one year in Jupiter orbit. At the time, the spacecraft will have chalked up about 71 million miles (114.5 million kilometers) in orbit around the giant planet.