NASA spacecraft sends back detailed pictures of Jupiter's raging, red storm

NASA spacecraft sends back detailed pictures of Jupiter's raging, red storm

Around 500 miles above Jupiter's visible cloud tops in the red spot - which is three times wider than Earth - the temperature was around 1500 degrees celsius.

Imagine a storm so vast it could swallow the Earth and so powerful that it has swirled nonstop for 350 years.

NASA says the images of the the Great Red Spot were downlinked on Tuesday and posted to the mission's JunoCam website Wednesday.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is perhaps as iconic a feature as Saturn's rings or Uranus' unfortunate name.

The spot, which is actually a raging storm, is 10,000 miles wild. The spacecraft was only 5,600 miles above the storm, making the images the closest ever of the spot.

The Great Red Spot has more than just good looks going for it.

The new images come from the probe's sixth close flyby of the planet while collecting data (it did not collect data during its first flyby). "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's next rendezvous with Jupiter will take place on September 1. "I have been following the Juno mission since it launched", Major said.

Southwest Research Institute Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton said: "For generations, people from all over the world and all walks of life have marvelled over the Great Red Spot". It was the closest any human-built object has come to the biggest storm in our solar system.

Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science, described the highly-anticipated images as the "perfect storm" of art and science.