Calling all space geeks.
NASA will be giving us our first-ever close look at Jupiter’s Great Red Spot within the next few days, so when and where will the images be available?
On July 1 2017, NASA announced that its Juno Spacecraft would be flying directly over the Great Red Spot on July 10 2017, six days after logging a year in Jupiter’s orbit.
Here in Australia, we live in the future, so the NASA flyover is happening today in our time.
According to NASA, the flyover will begin at 11:55am Australian Eastern Standard Time (6:55pm Pacific Daylight Time).
At that point, Juno will be 3,500 kilometres above Jupiter’s cloud tops. About 12 minutes later, Juno will be directly above the Great Red Spot.
Although Juno will be snapping pics today, we will have to wait a few days to see the results.
On the mission’s official Twitter account, NASA estimates that images will be available to the public on July 14 2017.
— NASA's Juno Mission (@NASAJuno) July 10, 2017
ABC News reports that images are delayed because, during the flyby, Juno faces the wrong way to communicate with Earth. After several hours, NASA should be able to begin downloading the data, which will then be uploaded here, unprocessed and in chronological order.
For those of you who can’t wait to get a better glimpse of what Juno sees, NASA has created a real-time simulation of the flyby:
The Great Red Spot is a 16,000-kilometer wide storm (for reference Earth is about 12,700 kilometres wide) which humans have been monitoring since 1830.
In that time the storm has actually shrunk a little – in the 1800s it was estimated at 40,000 kilometres wide- but it still continues to rage.
“Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter,” Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said in a NASA press release. “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.”
Scientists hope that studies of the Great Red Spot will deepen our understanding of the planets beyond our solar system.