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Nasa’s Juno spacecraft is set make history as it flies over Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot for the first time ever.
But, what is the Great Red Spot and why is the world’s first flight over it so exciting?
What is the Great Red Spot?
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a 10,000-mile wide storm which has been monitored by humanity since 1830.
The storm’s enormous size is the equivalent of just less than half of Earth’s 24,901 mile circumference.
It is thought to have existed on the solar system’s biggest planet for more than 350 years, according to Nasa.
What is the Juno spacecraft?
Juno is a rotating spacecraft launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in August 2011 to orbit Jupiter 33 times in a bid to discover more about the planet’s formation and evolution.
The probe reached Jupiter on July 4 and will skim within 33,000 miles above the cloud tops every 11 days for around a year.
How big is it?
Juno measures 11.5 feet in height, and 11.5 feet in diameter.
The spacecraft’s hexagonal two-tier structure is driven by a four rocket engine and is powered by 11 solar panels and two lithium batteries.
What are we hoping to learn from the mission?
Juno will observe Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields, atmospheric dynamics and composition.
Scientists believe these discoveries will provide key knowledge in understanding more about the rest of the solar system.
Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said: “This monumental storm has raged on the solar system’s biggest planet for centuries.
“Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special.”
When will Juno fly over the Great Red Spot?
Juno will pass over the huge storm around 6.55pm (Pacific Day Time) on Monday.
People in the UK will have to wait until 2.55am on Tuesday to follow the mission on Nasa’s social media feeds.
By the time it reaches the Great Red Spot, Juno will be on its sixth orbit of Jupiter and will have clocked up 71 million miles since its launch.
How can I see what’s happening?
More information about Juno’s journey can be found on Nasa’s website.
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