NASA’s Juno spacecraft has completed a flyby of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, gazing into the eye of the storm.
While the agency hasn’t released any close-ups just yet, it promises to do so in the coming days, giving us a new angle on the 16 000-kilometer-wide maelstrom that has been churning furiously for centuries.
“On July 4 at 7:30 p.m. PDT (10:30 p.m. EDT), Juno logged exactly one year in Jupiter orbit,” says NASA. “At the time of perijove, Juno was about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops.”
Juno was launched back in August 2011, with its mission being the study of the solar system’s largest planet.
Once its work in orbit is done, it will be plunged into the gas giant’s atmosphere, unravelling more and more of the planet’s mysteries.
“For generations people from all over the world and all walks of life have marveled over the Great Red Spot,” says Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute. “Now we are finally going to see what this storm looks like up close and personal.”