Juno spacecraft set to fly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot

While humans have been monitoring the great storm since 1830, scientists think it may have been raging for more than 350 years.

Clint Huston | Jul 13, 2017

NASA's Juno spacecraft will fly directly over Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot on July 10, giving scientists and people around the world a chance to see first close-up images of the massive 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm.

"Jupiter's mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter," said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, in a NASA statement. "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."

While humans have been monitoring the great storm since 1830, scientists think it may have been raging for more than 350 years.

Juno will come closest to the Great Red Spot on Monday, July 10 at 9:55 EDT, when the spacecraft will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops, NASA says. Then, just under 12 minutes later, Juno will have traversed about another 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) and will be directly above the Great Red Spot.

July 4 marked Juno's one-year anniversary in orbit around Jupiter.

"The success of science collection at Jupiter is a testament to the dedication, creativity and technical abilities of the NASA-Juno team," said Juno project manager Rick Nybakken at the space agency'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."

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