Since the spacecraft Juno first arrived at the planet Jupiter in July of 2016, many of the photos have surprised even the most open-minded of scientists. With the latest Juno flyby near the planet, some of the most impressive photos of the entire mission have been recently beamed back.
Several of them focus on Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, a spinning maelstrom of gas that has been present on the planet since its first examination. It is hundreds of years old, maybe even older, and it could easily swallow the entire planet Earth. These new photos have given us our closest look yet at this impressive storm.
Juno Flyby Shows Beauty of Jupiter’s Red Spot
This latest Juno flyby came within 9,000 kilometers of the Great Red Spot. The photos are spectacular, and some of them raise more questions than they answer. This formation is a massive anti-cyclonic hurricane, meaning that it mostly spins counter clockwise. One thing that has never been clear is how deeply it spins into the heart of the gas giant. Still, we do know that it mostly consists of ammonia like the rest of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.
In recent decades, however, the once elliptical storm has become more circular. This has led some to speculate that the multi-century hurricane may be on the edge of dissipating. They do know that it is colder than the rest of Jupiter’s atmosphere, but the reason for its red color has never entirely been explained.
“Although the improvement in resolution and quality is incremental,” said John Rogers, director of the Jupiter section of the British Astronomical Association, “not a big leap, it has crossed a threshold to reveal small-scale waves and tiny shadow-casting clouds in the Great Red Spot which were never seen before.”
More photos are predicted to be released soon, some the closest look yet, and NASA promises that Juno will continue its mission for some time yet.
Image Source: Flickr