NASA's Juno craft all set for historic close encounter with Jupiter's Great Red Spot today

During the close flyby, Juno will pass about 5,600 miles above the Giant Red Spot clouds on Monday with all eight of the craft's instruments as well as its imager, JunoCam, switched on.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Jul 11, 2017, 08:46 AM IST
NASA's Juno craft all set for historic close encounter with Jupiter's Great Red Spot today
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New Delhi: NASA's Juno spacecraft will make its sixth flyby over Jupiter's mysterious cloud tops on Monday - this time concentrating on the planet's Great Red Spot, the best-known feature of the gas giant.

This will be humanity's first up-close and personal view of the gas giant's iconic, 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm monitored since 1830.

During the close flyby, Juno will pass about 5,600 miles above the Giant Red Spot clouds on Monday with all eight of the craft's instruments as well as its imager, JunoCam, switched on.

The spacecraft's closest approach, known as perijove - the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter's center - will occur at 6:55 p.m. PDT (9:55 p.m. EDT) on Monday, July 10, 2017.

At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops, says NASA.

"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."

Juno launched on August 5, 2011, celebrated its first anniversary in Jupiter orbit on July 4.

During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the Jupiter's cloud tops - as close as about 2,100 miles - probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of the gas giant and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.