A great big view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot offered by NASA’s Juno spacecraft


posted Friday, July 14, 2017 at 5:00 AM EST


Jupiter's red spot, which is an ongoing storm with a diameter greater than that of Earth, has long been a source of mystery on the distant planet. We've observed it before, of course, but never like NASA recently has with their Juno spacecraft. Juno launched in August of 2011 and has been orbiting Jupiter for about a year, making a close flyby of the famed red spot earlier this week.

"For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm. It will take us some time to analyze all the data from not only JunoCam, but Juno’s eight science instruments, to shed some new light on the past, present and future of the Great Red Spot," said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton. Speaking of those images, you can download the raw images here.

"This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Kevin Gill using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The image was taken on July 10, 2017 at 07:07 p.m. PDT (10:07 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its 7th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 6,130 miles (9,866 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet." Image credit: NASA

The Great Red Spot is over 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) wide - 1.3 times the width of the Earth - and has been monitored since 1830 but these new images provide the best look we've ever had. It is not clear yet what mysteries scientists will be able to unravel with the new images, but what it is clear is that they are incredible photos.