NASA’s Juno probe is expected to make a close flyby over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot on Monday night, and scientists are expecting it will give us our closest view ever of the gas giant’s 10,000-mile-wide storm, Atlas Obscura reports.
Jupiter’s massive swirling storm has long been a subject of fascination among scientists and space enthusiasts. Scientists believe that it has been around for at least 350 years, although we’ve been observing it since the early 1800s. Thanks to NASA’s Juno mission, we’ll finally be able to have a better understanding of Jupiter’s great swirling mystery.
On Monday night, Juno is set to fly about 5,600 miles above Jupiter’s churning cloud tops making up the Great Red Spot. At that point, the spacecraft will have every instrument, including the JunoCam, trained on the storm system.
The spacecraft’s instruments will be observing the cloud’s topmost layer, giving scientists the perfect opportunity to see how far the storm goes, what causes it, and the forces that help maintain its violent turbulence.
“Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno. “This monumental storm has raged on the solar system’s biggest planet for centuries. 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.”
— NASA (@NASA) July 10, 2017
After Juno’s journey over the Great Red Eye is completed, it will send the signals back to Earth. When do we get to see the actual photos? Unfortunately, we have to wait for a few more days as the Juno team announced via Twitter they’ll be releasing the images on July 14. To see the data transmission in real-time, you can go to Deep Space Network Now.
NASA’s Juno flyby on Monday is expected to offer unprecedented images of the massive gas giant’s Great Red Spot. Candy Hansen, a member of Juno’s investigation team, took the time to visit the Unmanned Spaceflight forums to give us a better idea on what to expect from the images that will be released on Friday.
“We have scheduled 3 GRS images – one that will capture the northern edge, one centered as Juno is right over the GRS, and one looking from the south. The third one will include the methane filter.”
On July 4 at exactly 7:30 p.m. PDT, NASA’s Juno probe has been in orbit around Jupiter for a year, traveling 71 million miles in the interim.
— NASA's Juno Mission (@NASAJuno) July 10, 2017
“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. “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.”
While each orbit brings the probe closer to the heart of Jupiter’s radiation belt, it was able to withstand the turbulence of electrons surrounding the gas giant’s better than scientists have imagined.
Back in 2014, the Great Red Spot was measured at 10,250 miles across. According to NASA’s Amy Simon, their observations revealed that small eddies are feeding into the storm, adding that the turbulence it made could be the reason for the accelerated change observed in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
[Featured Image by NASA/AP Images]