Juno managed yet again to send back incredible images of Jupiter, and this time, they are close-up images of the planet's most iconic feature which is the Great Red Spot. Citizen scientists quickly went into action to take JunoCam's raw images and processed them for enhanced detail and color.
On Monday, July 10, the Juno spacecraft's flyby gave the JunoCam Imager an opportunity to take photos of Jupiter's Great Red Spot as it passed 6,130 miles (9,866 kilometers) directly above the red cloud tops. They images were downlinked from the spacecraft's memory on Tuesday and were already available on JunoCam's website by Wednesday morning.
The photos are the closest ever photographs of Jupiter's giant storm, which showcased dark clouds swirling within the red oval. This delighted Juno's investigators as the opportunity to thoroughly study the Great Red Spot lies not just in the photographs, but also in the data that they gathered from Juno's eight other instruments on board.
Just as the Juno team expected and wanted, citizen scientists immediately jumped into action by taking the raw images posted on JunoCam's website and processing them to show enhanced color and detail compared to their unprocessed forms.
Naturally, what turned up is a set of incredibly striking photos that show the Great Red Spot in all its glory.
"It is always exciting to see these new raw images of Jupiter as they arrive. But it is even more thrilling to take the raw images and turn them into something that people can appreciate," said Jason Major, a citizen scientist from Warwick Rhode Island.
Everyone is invited to take part in the process by downloading the images and enhancing them in creative ways.
The Great Red Spot And The Juno Mission
As of April 3, the Great Red Spot measures 1.3 times the size of Earth at 10,159 miles (16,350 kilometers) in width. Scientists have been monitoring the great storm since 1830 and it has been observed to have shrunk in recent years.
Although people have already seen a large spot on Jupiter through their telescopes as early as the 1600's, it is unclear whether what they were seeing was the Great Red Spot or another spot in Jupiter altogether.