Juno has etched for itself a place in the history by becoming the first spacecraft to fly the closest to the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot while also capturing some amazing imagery as well as scientific data.
Juno launched in 2011 and reached orbit at Jupiter in July 2016 on a mission to learn more about the massive gas giant’s origin, evolution, atmosphere and structure. This close-up look at the Giant Red Spot should help clear up some of the mystery around the raging storm.
The flyby will enable astronomers to learn about the unusual magnetic fields from the higher-resolution images. Further astronomers will also be able to see in more detail and how the spot is interacting with Jupiter’s belts.
The Great Red Spot puts Earth storms to shame. Scientists believe it may have been around for over 300 years, though we’ve been following it from our planet since the early 1800s.
It takes about 45 minutes for signals from Juno to make it back to Earth. The spacecraft successfully phoned home after its close flyby, which took it to within about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) of the storm’s clouds.
Juno collected data and images during the journey. According to a Twitter post, the Juno team expects to release images on July 14. What’s amazing is they only put a camera on Juno grudgingly. Now scientists are glad they did.