The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Juno spacecraft will fly directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot on Monday. The mission will be the first close-up view of the 16,000-kilometre-wide storm, a statement by Nasa said. Scientists have been monitoring the storm since 1830 and believe that it has been around for more than 320 years.
“Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “This monumental storm has raged on the solar system’s biggest planet for centuries. Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special.”
Data from Juno’s mission says that the largest planet in the solar system has an “intriguingly complex interior structure, energetic polar aurora, and huge polar cyclones”. Juno will pass about 9,000 kilometres above the Giant Red Spot clouds with all eight of its instruments as well as its imager, JunoCam, on.
On July 4, Juno completed at least one year in the Jupiter orbit.
The spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The mission seeks to study the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.