NASA boffins have taken the most detailed images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in stunning detail.
Nasa has got up close and personal with Jupiter
Since the discovery of the Great Red Spot 1665, astronomers have been desperate to learn more about the swirling vortex of the gas giant Jupiter.Now, thanks to the historic Juno probe, Nasa has taken the most detailed imaged of the Great Red Spot.
The images were taken on Monday as Juno swung past the biggest planet in the solar system, just 5,600 miles above the surface.
Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said: “For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorising about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
The Great Red Spot
“Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm. It will take us some time to analyse 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.”Steve Levin, the lead project scientist for the Juno mission, added: “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.”
The Great Red Spot
The massive storm cloud heats part of Jupiter’s atmosphere to hundreds of degrees above what it is elsewhere on the planet.Around 500 miles above Jupiter’s visible cloud tops in the red spot – which is three times wider than Earth – the temperature was around 1500 degrees celsius.
Within the storm are hurricane systems swirling gases at 425 miles per hour, which can take up to six days to complete a revolution due to its vast size.
The red spot produces “acoustic waves” of energy that vibrate in the direction in which they are travelling, causing the atmosphere to heat tremendously.While it is unclear what has kept the storm going for the best part of four centuries, scientists believe that it is essentially re-powering itself thanks to the energy created from the heat.