NASA’s $1 billion Juno probe beamed back its latest photos of Jupiter on Wednesday, and the images are stunning.
The eye-popping new pictures feature the closest-ever views of the Great Red Spot (pictured above), a mega-storm about as wide as two Earths.
While the public is having a field day processing the probe’s raw JunoCam data into colorful imagery, scientists are amazed by the unprecedented level of detail.
“I’m counting the times [I’ve picked] up my jaw in the last couple of days,” Glenn Orton, a lead Juno team member and a planetary scientist at NASA JPL, told Business Insider.
Here are a few things Orton and his colleagues have noticed in the images so far.
On Monday, Juno — a robot the size of a tennis court — flew about 5,600 miles above Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, which is closer than any spacecraft before it.
This was Juno’s seventh pass around the gas-giant planet. The spacecraft swings by Jupiter once every 53.5 days at speeds approaching 130,000 mph. That makes close-up images very hard to capture.
That’s also why the full images from JunoCam, the probe’s visible-light camera, take the shape of an apple core.