Juno snaps photo of two giant storms
NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured an image of two massive storms in Jupiter’s turbulent southern hemisphere during its most recent close pass of the gas giant on Dec. 21, 2018. The photo shows Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, as well as another massive storm called Oval BA. The storm reached its current size following the collision of three smaller spots in 2000.
Scientists believe the Great Red Spot, which is about twice as wide as Oval BA, may have been formed centuries ago by the same process.
Juno captured an earlier image of Oval BA on Feb. 7, 2018. Since then, both the shape of the storm and the turbulent region surrounding it have changed significantly, according to NASA. In recent months Oval BA has changed from reddish to a more uniform whitish color.
The image was processed by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. The public can view and process Juno’s raw images into image products at the mission’s website.
Juno has been circling Jupiter since July 2016. It is in a highly elliptical 53-day orbit that takes it as far away from the planet as 5 million miles (8.1 million kilometers) and as close as 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers).
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.