NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first photos from its close flyby over Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot. The mysterious, extraterrestrial cyclone — which is twice as wide as Earth — has captivated scientists since the 1800s. Now, people can see the closest ever view of the massive storm for themselves.
Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for a little over a year on a mission to study the planet’s interior, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Its elliptical orbit around the planet takes the probe close to the surface for a few hours every 53 days. These are called perijove passes — and on July 10th, Juno completed its seventh. A little after its closest approach, Juno’s camera, JunoCam, snapped a few shots of the storm from about 5,000 miles above.
Typically, a team of NASA scientists chooses which images a spacecraft collects on its path around a planet. But with Juno, NASA’s opened up the process to the public: space fans can weigh in on the photos JunoCam shoots by ranking their favorite points of interest. After the photos are taken, NASA releases the raw images for the public to process. People can crop them, assemble them into collages, and change or enhance the colors. The results are mesmerizing, so we rounded up a few of the highlights:
The best part: you can find a lot more Great Red Spot photos here. Now you know what to do to get through the rest of the week.