On the spot

19 July 2017 | by Guy Consolmagno

Across the Universe


One year ago, Nasa’s Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter orbit (as described in my Tablet column last July). Its highly elliptical path periodically brings it close to the tops of Jupiter’s clouds, and this month one such low pass brought it right over the famous Red Spot, a hurricane-like storm some three times larger than planet Earth.

The storm appears to have been raging in Jupiter’s atmosphere for at least 300 years; Cassini first described it in 1665, though the first colour depiction of it is in a painting from 1711, on display in the Vatican Museum. The internet is now full of glorious, if somewhat gaudy, images of swirls and eddies seen by Juno’s camera.

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