|A close-up of Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot,’ a storm that has been raging on the planet for 350 years. Photo: NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Marty McGuire © PUBLIC DOMAIN|
It’s one of Jupiter’s most distinct and immediately recognizable features: the so-called Great Red Spot. This massive storm, wider than the diameter of our Earth, has been raging for at least 350 years and is itself a mystery to scientists. Fortunately for those scientists (and the rest of us space nerds) NASA’s Juno spacecraft just captured the closest ever photos of the storm.
On Monday of this week, Juno passed just 5,600 miles above the 10,000-mile wide spot, taking pictures as it went.
The photos were received and released by NASA yesterday on the JunoCam website, where astronomy fans, space nerds and astrophotography junkies alike pulled the originals into photo editing programs and started pull out colors, sharpening, and otherwise improving the photos.
So while the original Raw images looked like this:
Ambitious NASA fans have tuned the unprocessed shots to reveal more details, structure, color and even overlaid the continental US on one of the photos for scale.
NASA is no doubt taking a close look at the Raw files, processing the shots themselves and hoping to learn something new about the spot from these close-ups. For our part, we’re just enjoying the pretty pictures and trying to fathom how they were captured.
To see the full resolution Raw files and all of the different processed versions by various users, head over to the JunoCam website by clicking here.