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NASA's Juno Spacecraft Just Had A Close Encounter With Jupiter's Little Red Spot

Jan 27, 2017 10:11 AM EST
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Juno's flyby near the planet Jupiter has resulted in never-before-seen and stunning images that are also rich in new science. The recent approach allowed the spacecraft to closely photograph the little red spot.

The spacecraft used its JunoCam on board to capture a detailed image of Jupiter's surface revealing the little red spot. The image was taken during the Dec. 11 flyby to Jupiter. Juno was about 10,300 (16,600 kilometers) above Jupiter's top clouds when the image was taken.

Jupiter is known for its harsh environment and storms that are distinguishable even in photographs due to their large-scale concentrations. This allowed Juno to capture the one distinct weather disturbance that everyone knows as the little red spot. The little red spot is called NN-LRS-1. It is called as such since it is highly visible in the image released by NASA on the lower left.

"This storm is the third largest anticyclonic reddish oval on the planet, which Earth-based observers have tracked for the last 23 years," a NASA official said in a press release.

It is called an anticyclone, a weather disturbance in Jupiter where circulation of winds around a center region with high atmospheric pressure occurs in large quantities. The storm moves clockwise in the north and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.

Although it is called a little red spot, it is pale brown in color with visible smudge at the core. The color also happens to blend with its surroundings thus it is a bit difficult to identify. But thanks to Juno's detailed images, the storm can now be studied better by providing a clearer image to analyze.

The rendered image was provided then by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers, according to NASA. Meanwhile, all other images taken by Juno are available at its official website so the public and citizen journalists can process the images to produce new and enhanced outputs.

The archive can be accessed for free at www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam.

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