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NASA's Juno Spacecraft Makes A Close Approach To Jupiter

First Posted: Jan 25, 2017 02:51 AM EST

NASA's Juno spacecraft has been on a mission to probe Jupiter since 2011. As it continues to gather data from the planet's surface, a new photo taken from its latest pass in December 2016 shows a closer look of Jupiter's Great Red Spot along with its smaller companion Oval BA.

Slate reported that the Juno mission completed its third pass on Jupiter in December 2016. Dubbed as Perijove 3 (following Perijove 0 in July, Perijove 1 in August and Perijove 2 in October), the close approach captured a lower perspective of the half-lit planet, showing Jupiter's south pole as well as two of its giant storms.

The Great Red Spot is located at a latitude of about 22 degrees below Jupiter's equator. The giant storm is a more massive version of a hurricane on Earth. In fact, the storm itself measures twice as wide as planet Earth, and its boisterous winds reach a speed of about 400 miles per hour. Although there are no precise data on how long it has been present, the Great Red Spot has been swirling the atmosphere of the Solar System's fifth planet for over 150 years, according to NASA.

On the other hand, its smaller companion Oval BA is not actually quite as small. It has the same diameter as Earth's. It is formed by three merging storms in 2000.

As reported by Siasat Daily, Juno's next Perijove is scheduled on Feb. 2. Moreover, NASA is inviting space enthusiasts to participate in the mission by voting on what angle the JunoCam should take.

"We are looking forward to people visiting our website and becoming part of the JunoCam imaging team," said Juno probe investigator Candy Hansen from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. "It's up to the public to determine the best locations in Jupiter's atmosphere for JunoCam to capture during this flyby."

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

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