See Juno Probe’s Amazing Up-Close Views of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Jul 13, 2017

By Mike Wall

You can now feast your eyes on the first up-close photos of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot ever taken.

On Monday night (July 10), NASA’s Juno spacecraft zoomed just 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the mammoth storm’s cloud tops — closer than any probe had gotten before.

“For generations, people from all over the world and all walks of life have marveled over the Great Red Spot,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement before the flyby. “Now we are finally going to see what this storm looks like up close and personal.”

The images that the probe’s JunoCam instrument snapped during the close encounter have come down to Earth, NASA announced today (July 12), and the agency is urging anyone who’s interested to have a go at processing the photos. You can do so on the mission’s JunoCam page.

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6 comments on “See Juno Probe’s Amazing Up-Close Views of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

  • Wait a minute…why is that picture so wierdly cropped? Are they trying to make it look like Jupiter isn’t flat?!?

    Seriously, though, what great photos. Can’t wait to see more!

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  • Sue you have written in the past on a favourite book of mine “Hallucinations” by Oliver Sacks. Just before the shutdown you wrote again about it but I can’t find it now. Can you point me at it?

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  • Sue Blue #2
    Jul 22, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Wait a minute…why is that picture so wierdly cropped?

    Taking the serious part of your question:-

    A satellite or probe doing high-res. photographing of the surface of a planet, only covers a relatively narrow ground track below it’s current orbit. (Not a hemisphere of the whole globe.) see fig. 1. on the link

    It can cover different ground tracks as the planet rotates, but in this example, Juno is in a very eccentric orbit where it only briefly passes over Jupiter at low altitude at the perigee of each orbit.

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  • Phil, I wrote a comment about how I had read Joe Nickell’s book, “The Science of Ghosts” and thought that it was somewhat disappointing because he seemed quick to ascribe all of the incidents that people think are “paranormal” to a few stock causes that he seemed to use on every page, such as having a “fantasy-prone personality”. It struck me as glib and over-used. Without an in-depth psychological assessment of the people involved, it’s disingenuous to ascribe their experiences to a single personality trait. He also cited his own work quite often. No doubt all so-called “paranormal” experiences have a psychological, neurological, or other natural cause, but he seems to be eager to shoehorn all experience into a few neat little slots. I stated that I found Oliver Sacks’ book “Hallucinations” a much more sensitive and believable explanation of the neurological basis of perception and misperceptions that lead to belief in gods, ghosts, demons, and the “paranormal”.

    I don’t know what happened to my comment. I posted it on the article about Why People Think They See Ghosts, but it’s not there now. It may have been in moderation or something when the site went down.

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  • Scientists are now putting together models and 3D images assembled from Juno data.

    Scientists are beginning to unlock the secrets of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter – the biggest storm in the solar system.

    This spectacular anticyclone has been in existence for more than 150 years. It is wider than the Earth.

    One of the big puzzles has concerned its roots and how deep they go.

    Now, the American space agency’s Juno probe at Jupiter has an answer. The storm system extends down at least 350km (200 miles) into the atmosphere.

    And the roots could well run deeper still.

    The 350km is just the limit of what Juno’s microwave radiometer can sense.

    This instrument tracks the warmth (hundreds of degrees Celsius) in the atmosphere associated with the storm.

    But if Juno can make some gravity measurements over the region as well, it might also detect mass movements connected with the spot down at over 1,000km below the planet’s cloud tops.

    “We’re now putting together the 3D structure of the Great Red Spot, whereas we’ve only known it from a 2D perspective before,” said Prof Andrew Ingersoll, from the California Institute of Technology.

    “Precisely how deep the roots go is still to be determined. But the warmth we see at depth is consistent with the winds we measure at the top of the atmosphere.”

    Those winds move at more than 120m/second – getting on for 300mph. That is far faster than anything generally seen on Earth, including its high-altitude jet stream.

    Prof Ingersoll was speaking at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) – the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth and planetary scientists.

    He said the Juno team wanted to understand the key mechanisms that drove the spot and kept it from dissipating.

    But the data gathered on the red spot was simply not compatible with models used to study Earth’s weather.

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