The giant storm on Jupiter known as the Great Red Spot has been raging for centuries. Now scientists may finally be on the verge of attaining greater insight into this tempest.
Images and data are being returned to Earth from the Juno spacecraft’s recent close pass over the GRS on Monday, July 10, when it passed directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops at a height of just 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers). The spacecraft's eight instruments gathered data, including its citizen science-based imager, JunoCam. As soon as the raw images hit the JunoCam website, amateur image processing gurus pounced into action.
The images — the closest ever taken of the GRS — weren’t expected to be available until July 14 because the spacecraft’s main antenna was pointed away from Earth during the closest approach. But they arrived earlier that expected on Wednesday.
“The Juno team must have fast-tracked them!” enthused amateur image processor Kevin Gill, who works as a science data software engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The science team knows there has been avid public interest in Juno’s seventh science flyby over Jupiter’s cloud tops that focused on the GRS.