An artist's conception of the Juno spacecraft flying over the Great Red Spot. The image of Jupiter is not a painting — it's a mosaic made from real data taken by the Voyager spacecraft. (NASA/JPL/Björn Jónsson/Seán Doran)

Imagine a storm so vast it could swallow the Earth and so powerful that it has swirled nonstop for 350 years. That is Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

On Monday, NASA sent its Juno spacecraft skimming just 2,200 miles above the spot's roiling cloud tops. It was the closest any human-built object has come to the biggest storm in our solar system.

The plucky probe made it through without a scratch. Now, data and stunning images are streaming back to NASA, where scientists are processing the information as quickly as they can. The raw image data is available here, and anyone with the right editing software can try their hand at processing it. It will take weeks, even months, for the science data to come out, and scientists will likely study this flyby for years to come.

The Great Red Spot has more than just good looks going for it. The massive weather system — its composition and internal dynamics are still something of a mystery — could help scientists understand weather on Earth and on worlds beyond our solar system.

NASA's Juno Mission released a video on July 5 which shows a timelapse of images taken from the Juno spacecraft between June 12 to June 29. Juno entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4 after an almost five-year journey. (NASA)

“If you just look at reflected light from an extrasolar planet, you’re not going to be able to tell what it’s made of,” Amy Simon, an expert in planetary atmospheres at the Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a NASA news release. “Looking at as many possible different cases in our own solar system could enable us to then apply that knowledge to extrasolar planets.”

Here are a few of the best processed images to come online. We will update this post with more images as they become available.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot as seen by the Juno spacecraft from Bjorn Jonsson on Vimeo.


(Tom Momary via NASA)


(NASA / SwRI / MSSS)


(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt)

(NASA / SwRI / MSSS)

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