MIAMI (AFP) - Nasa on Wednesday (July 12) released a series of stunning images of a raging storm on Jupiter, known as the Great Red Spot, snapped as an unmanned probe zipped by.
The US space agency's Juno spacecraft flew over the storm late on Monday (July 10), offering humanity's closest look yet at the iconic feature of our solar system's largest planet.
"For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorising about Jupiter's Great Red Spot," said Mr Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
"Now we have the best pictures ever." The pictures can be viewed at https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing.
Scientists hope to learn more about what drives the storm, and Mr Bolton said it would take some time to analyse the data captured by Juno's eight instruments as it passed over the tempest a height of 9,000km.
The Great Red Spot measured 16,350km wide on April 3 of this year (2017), which is 1.3 times the size of the Earth.
It has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years.
Juno launched in 2011 and began orbiting Jupiter last year (2016). Its next flyby is planned for early September.
"These highly-anticipated images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot are the 'perfect storm' of art and science," said Nasa's director of planetary science Jim Green.
"We are pleased to share the beauty and excitement of space science with everyone."