NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently orbiting Jupiter and during on one of its orbits captured a stunning view of the planet’s northern latitudes and the Little Red Spot.
The image shows off a number of gas giant’s swirling cloudtops in incredible detail and one of the best things about the image is one of the closest ever view of the Little Red Spot. The spot is effectively a giant storm NN-LRS-1 – not has huge as the giant storm that is visible in the form of the Great Red Spot on the gas giant – but it is huge nonetheless.
According to NASA the Little Red Spot is the third largest anticyclonic reddish oval on the planet, which Earth-based observers have tracked for the last 23 years. An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon with large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure.
The Little Red Spot doesn’t show off much color in the image and appears as a pale brown smudge in the center. The color is very similar to the surroundings, making it difficult to see as it blends in with the clouds nearby. The image was captured by the JunoCam imager on Juno spacecraft on December 11, 2016 at 8:47 a.m. PST (11:47 a.m. EST). The spacecraft was performing a close flyby of Jupiter at the time. The image was processed by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers. JunoCam is a colour, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops.
NASA wants you to pick picture sites for Jupiter probe
NASA is giving you the opportunity to have a say in the images that the JunoCam will capture as the spacecraft approaches Jupiter’s north pole on February 2, the space agency said in a statement. NASA wants people to become part of the JunoCam imaging team by casting a vote and deciding the best locations in Jupiter’s atmosphere for JunoCam to capture during this flyby.
Juno will make its closest approach to Jupiter when the spacecraft is about 4,300 kms above the planet’s swirling clouds. Two hours later, the imaging will conclude as the spacecraft completes its close flyby, departing from below the gas giant’s south pole. Juno is currently on its fourth orbit around Jupiter. It takes 53 days for Juno to complete one orbit.
The pictures will play a vital role in helping the Juno science team establish what is going on in Jupiter’s atmosphere at any moment. Each participant will get a limited number of votes per orbit to devote to the points of interest he or she wants imaged.
After the flyby is complete, the raw images will be posted to the JunoCam website, where the public can perform its own processing, NASA said.