NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Buzzing Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -
An artist’s rendering of NASA’s Juno spacecraft making a close pass over Jupiter. (NASA via AP)

NASA’s Juno spacecraft is about to give us our best look yet of Jupiter’s swirling Great Red Spot.

The spacecraft flies directly above the monster storm Monday night, passing 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. That’s close by space standards. Juno’s instruments will peer through the clouds and help scientists determine how deep the storm is.

The Great Red Spot is so big that at 10,000 miles wide (16,000 kilometers), it could swallow Earth. It will take NASA a few days to get the close-up images. The team plans to release them Friday.

Juno went into orbit around Jupiter last July. It was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2011. Only one other spacecraft has circled our solar system’s biggest planet: NASA’s long-gone Galileo.