July 13, 2017 8:47 pm

In Photos: NASA spacecraft circling Jupiter releases new images of ‘Great Red Spot’

This undated artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter.

(NASA via AP)
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A NASA spacecraft recently released images of Jupiter’s monster storm, in its first close-up flyby of the planet’s famous Great Red Spot.

The images were taken by the JunoCam, a spacecraft circling the planet at an amazingly close 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometres) above the storm. The pictures were beamed back to NASA this past Tuesday and posted online on Wednesday.

SEE OUR COVERAGE OF NASA’S EXPLORATION OF JUPITER

NASA has encouraged “citizen scientists” to enhance the images and upload them to an online gallery on its JunoCam webpage.

Swirling clouds are clearly visible in the 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometre-wide) storm, which is big enough to swallow Earth and has been around for centuries. The Guardian reports that while the storm has been monitored for more than 180 years, it’s estimated that the storm was first spotted as early as the 17th century.

Close up images of Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot.’

“For hundreds of years, scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm,” said lead researcher Scott Bolton of the San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute.

Close up images of Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot.’

NASA, AP

He went on to say it will take time to analyze everything to shine a “new light on the past, present and future of the Great Red Spot.”

Juno’s next close encounter with the giant gas planet will be in September, though the Great Red Spot won’t be in Juno’s sights before then.

SEE OUR COVERAGE OF NASA’S EXPLORATION OF JUPITER

Launched in 2011, Juno arrived at Jupiter last July. It is only the second spacecraft to orbit the solar system’s largest planet, but is passing much closer than NASA’s Galileo did from 1995 through 2003.

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—With files from the Associated Press. 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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