NASA unveiled the first close-up views of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Thursday, taken from its Juno satellite within just 5,000 miles of the spot’s surface.
The gas giant’s Great Red Spot, a 10,000-mile-wide anticyclone, is regarded as the solar system’s most powerful storm.
According to NASA, the Great Red Spot’s winds peak at approximately 400 miles per hour and have been swirling for more than 150 years.
For comparison, the most powerful hurricanes recorded on Earth spanned more than 1,000 miles with winds up to 200 miles per hour.
Scientists have been monitoring the huge storm since 1830 and believe it may have existed for more than 350 years.
The Great Red Spot measures 10,159 miles in width (1.3 times as wide as Earth) and, according to NASA, it appears to be shrinking.
Juno launched in 2011 and entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016. So far, scientists have learned that Jupiter’s poles are completely covered in Earth-sized storms and its magnetic field is even stronger than they initially expected.
The July 10 fly-by over the planet’s iconic Great Red Spot revealed raw, close-up photos created by citizen scientists using data from Juno’s JunoCam imager.
“Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm. It will take us some time to analyze all the data from not only JunoCam, but Juno’s eight science instruments, to shed some new light on the past, present and future of the Great Red Spot,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton said in a news release.