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NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

First Posted: Jul 12, 2017 06:19 AM EDT
Giant Red Spot
The Juno probe has just brushed with the clouds above the Great Red Spot of the giant planet.
(Photo : Science Channel/YouTube screenshot)

The Juno spacecraft, which is in orbit around the largest planet in the solar system, has began its transmission of data and images on Tuesday. It is reported that NASA's probe has just experienced its closest rendezvous with the very well known mammoth cyclone of Jupiter -- the Great Red Spot.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, this is mankind's closest in brush with the famous Great Red Spot of Jupiter. NASA's probe has had a flyby of the extremely huge crimson storm that has captivated scientists on planet Earth for hundreds of years.

The probe has passed the Great Red Spot, above its clouds about 9,000 kilometers (5,592 miles) on Tuesday. However, it will take some days for readings taken by Juno's array of cameras and other instruments to be sent to observers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Also, it will take much more time for the data to be analyzed by scientists.

"This is a storm bigger than the entire Earth. It's been there for hundreds of years. We want to know what makes it tick," Steve Levin, the lead project scientist for the Juno mission at JPL, expressed.

Scientists believe that understanding the Great Red Spot more may give more clues to the mechanics, structures and formation of the giant planet as a whole. It is believed that the mammoth cyclone is produced by the energy that exudes from Jupiter's interior combined with the rotation of the planet. However, the exact inner workings are not known, as per Reuters.

The swirling cyclone ranks as the biggest known storm in the solar system measures about 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) in diameter with winds clocked at hundreds of miles per hour around its exterior. It is noticeably a deep, red orb that is surrounded by layers of different colors of pale yellow, orange and white. The Great Red Spot is continuously observed since about 1830.

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