The Sciences

Here's what the Great Red Spot would look like if you could fly to Jupiter to see the monster hurricane yourself

ImaGeo iconImaGeoBy Tom YulsmanJul 27, 2017 11:36 PM

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A image acquired by the Juno spacecraft and processed by a citizen scientist reveals the Red Spot in subtly beautiful natural color

Jupiter's Great Red Spot as seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft on July 10, 2017. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson) Back on July 10th, NASA's Juno spacecraft swooped low over Jupiter's Great Red Spot for the seventh time. Since then we've been treated to some spectacular imagery — almost all of it enhanced to bring out various features in the persistent 10,000-mile-wide storm. But what would it look like to human eyes if a person could have been aboard Juno? The image above, released by NASA today, answers that question in breathtaking fashion. As NASA puts it: 

This image of Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Björn Jónsson using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This true-color image offers a natural color rendition of what the Great Red Spot and surrounding areas would look like to human eyes from Juno’s position. The tumultuous atmospheric zones in and around the Great Red Spot are clearly visible.

At the time that JunoCam acquired the imaging data on July 10, 2017, the spacecraft was about 8,648 miles above the tops of the clouds in Jupiter's atmosphere. The Great Red Spot has been likened to a hurricane. And in some respects, that's right. But there are differences. The spot swirls counter-clockwise around a high pressure center, whereas hurricanes on Earth feature low pressure at their cores. The largest hurricanes here are about as wide as the U.S. states east of Texas — dimensions that are dwarfed by the Great Red Spot, which is 1.3 times as wide as the entire Earth. And while Earthly hurricane winds top out at about 200 miles per hour, Jupiter's massive storm packs winds as high as 400 mph. If you want to try your own hand at processing raw images from the JunoCam — to produce stunning natural color views like the one above, or enhanced images that bring Jupiter's turbulent atmospheric features to life in vivid detail — they are available for you to peruse and download at: www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam If you do it, and NASA chooses to feature your work, I'd love to use what you produce here at ImaGeo!

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