NASA’s Juno spacecraft is all set for another manoeuvre on July 10, flying directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, the gas giant’s iconic, 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm.
This meanoeuvre will be humanity’s first close-up view of the gigantic storm being monitored since 1830 and possibly existing for more than 350 years on Jupiter, making it mysterious and puzzling.
“Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “This monumental storm has raged on the solar system’s biggest planet for centuries. Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special,” said a NASA report.
The July 10 flyby will Juno’s sixth on to the gas giant’s mysterious cloud tops. Since Juno’s perijove is on Monday, July 10, at 6:55 pm PDT (9:55 pm EDT), Juno will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops.
In its closest reach lasting for 11 minutes and 33 seconds, Juno will cover another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers) and will be directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, said NASA. The spacecraft will bee about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds and all its 8 instruments and its camera JunoCam, will be directly on the storm during the flyby.
“The success of science collection at Jupiter is a testament to the dedication, creativity and technical abilities of the NASA-Juno team,” said Rick Nybakken, project manager for Juno from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Each new orbit brings us closer to the heart of Jupiter’s radiation belt, but so far the spacecraft has weathered the storm of electrons surrounding Jupiter better than we could have ever imagined.”
As US is celebrating its Independence Day on July 4, Juno will have logged exactly one year in Jupiter orbit.