New Delhi: Ever since its smooth transit from Earth into its destined orbit around Jupiter, NASA's Juno spacecraft has been beaming back some amazing data on the planet as well as giving space enthusiasts spectacular visual treats from time to time.
With many turning points marking its one-year-long journey in Jupiter's orbit, Juno is all set to make another important manoeuvre today.
The spacecraft will fly directly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the gas giant's iconic, 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm.
One of the biggest mysteries related to Jupiter is the planet's Great Red Spot and NASA says that this will be humanity's first up-close and personal view of the gigantic feature – a storm monitored since 1830 and possibly existing for more than 350 years.
This mission will be a part of Juno's sixth science flyby of the gas giant's mysterious cloud tops.
According to the space agency, perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter's center) will be on Monday, July 10, at 6:55 pm PDT (9:55 pm EDT). At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, Juno will have covered another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers) and will be directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The spacecraft will pass about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds. All eight of the spacecraft's instruments as well as its imager, JunoCam, will be on during the flyby.
"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," NASA reported.