Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: Both Deep and Wide

NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this detailed look at Jupiter’s most recognizable feature, the Great Red Spot.

Data from Juno’s instruments indicate this giant, long-lived vortex extends far deeper into Jupiter’s atmosphere than scientists previously expected, to about 300 miles (500 kilometers) below the cloud tops. The surprising discovery demonstrates that the Great Red Spot and other vortices descend below the depth where sunlight warms the atmosphere, providing new clues about the inner workings of the planet’s beautiful but violent atmosphere. Researchers published the findings in the journal Science in Oct. 2021:

Citizen scientist Andrea Luck processed this image from raw JunoCam data. The original image was taken on July 10, 2017, at 07:10 p.m. PDT (10:10 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, the spacecraft was about 8,600 miles (13,840 kilometers) from the cloud tops, above latitude 33 degrees south.

JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing. More information about NASA citizen science can be found at https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience and https://www.nasa.gov/solve/opportunities/citizenscience.

More information about Juno is at https://www.nasa.gov/juno and https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu. For more about this finding and other science results, see https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/science-findings.

Image credit:
Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Image processing by Andrea Luck © CC BY­­