Deep in outer space, two powerful storms brewed near Jupiter’s iconic Red Spot. And the planet’s colorful, swirling clouds became even more mesmerizing — a feat space enthusiasts may not have imagined was possible.
NASA‘s Juno spacecraft captured the stunning sight during a recent flyby in late December, though the agency only just released the images on Thursday. The spacecraft was about 23,000 to 34,000 miles from the top of the planet’s clouds at the time.
“Two massive storms in #Jupiter’s turbulent southern hemisphere appear in this new image captured during my latest flyby of the planet,” NASA explained in a tweet, which has garnered nearly 1,000 retweets in less than 24 hours. Dozens of people exchanged oohs and ahhs.
“One of my favorite objects to look at in a telescope. Always wonderful to see it with such detail,” one Twitter user replied to the image.
“I’m slightly obsessed by Jupiter’s glorious visual beauty,” another wrote.
“Incredible pictures. It amazes me how #nasa and your gifted people produced the tech to take these pics!” a woman added.
It’s not surprising the incredible sight received rave reviews on social media. Pictures snapped by Juno’s camera have captivated the internet in recent months, as fans of the mission have pointed out a “dragon’s eye,” a “squid,” “dolphins” and other “creatures” within Jupiter’s vicinity.
This particular scene, which took place on Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, was captured on Dec. 21 — the day Juno reached the “halfway point” during its years-long mission.
The photos show a huge storm called Oval BA hovering near the Great Red Spot. The “striking blemish” on Jupiter’s surface is about twice as wide as Earth, according to Slash Gear, which explains the huge dot is actually a massive storm that has been circulating for more than a century.
“The storm reached its current size when three smaller spots collided and merged in the year 2000. The Great Red Spot, which is about twice as wide as Oval BA, may have formed from the same process centuries ago,” NASA said in an online statement.
This isn’t the first time the Oval BA has been caught on camera. The storm was also spotted during a mission in February 2018.
“The turbulent regions around, and even the shape of, the storm have significantly changed since then.”
“The turbulent regions around, and even the shape of, the storm have significantly changed since then,” NASA explains. “Oval BA further transformed in recent months, changing color from reddish to a more uniform white.”
NASA’s Juno spacecraft was launched on Aug. 5, 2011, and arrived at Jupiter five years later — in July 2016. Juno’s mission is slated to come to a close in July 2021 after the spacecraft slowly orbits Jupiter, collecting important data along the way.
“Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars,” NASA describes on its website.
As the spacecraft continues to explore the fifth planet from the Sun, space lovers expect to receive even more impressive views along the way.
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