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NASA Spacecraft circling Jupiter Reveals Beauty of Solar System’s Biggest Planetary Storm

The images were clicked by NASA's spacecraft Juno, launched in 2011, that flew directly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot on Monday

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The Great Red Spot on Jupiter
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is shown in this NASA Juno spacecraft photo released on July 12, 2017. VOA
  • The up-close beauty of our solar system’s biggest planetary storm is being revealed by  NASA spacecraft
  • Juno flew directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, passing an amazingly close 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the monster storm
  • Swirling clouds are clearly visible in the 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm, which is big enough to swallow Earth and has been around for centuries

Cape Canaveral, California, July 14, 2017: A NASA spacecraft circling Jupiter is revealing the up-close beauty of our solar system’s biggest planetary storm.

Juno flew directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot on Monday, passing an amazingly close 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the monster storm. The images snapped by JunoCam were beamed back Tuesday and posted online Wednesday. Then members of the public — so-called citizen scientists — were encouraged to enhance the raw images.

Swirling clouds are clearly visible in the 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm, which is big enough to swallow Earth and has been around for centuries.

“For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said lead researcher Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm.”

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Information was still arriving Thursday from Juno’s science instruments. Bolton said it will take the time to analyze everything to shed “new light on the past, present, and future of the Great Red Spot.”

Juno’s next close encounter with the giant gas planet will be in September. The Great Red Spot won’t be in Juno’s scopes then, however.

Launched in 2011, Juno arrived at Jupiter last July. It is only the second spacecraft to orbit the solar system’s largest planet, but is passing much closer than NASA’s Galileo did from 1995 through 2003. (VOA)

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NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk Due to Lack of Small Spacesuit

"An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen"

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NASA, women, space suit
U.S. astronaut Anne McClain waves before the launch of Soyuz MS-11 space ship at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

What should have been a giant leap for womankind has turned into a stumble on the path to equality after U.S. space agency NASA canceled the first all-female spacewalk due to a lack of a spacesuit in the right size.

Anne McClain and Christina Koch had been due to step into history books in a spacewalk Friday, during the final week of Women’s History Month.

But McClain will now give up her place on the mission to her male colleague Nick Hague, NASA announced late Monday.

“Mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA, spacesuit, women
FILE – U.S. astronaut Christina Koch attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts’ Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

“McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso — essentially the shirt of the spacesuit — fits her best. Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it.”

Nearly 60 years after the first human blasted off into space, less than 11 percent of the 500 plus people who have traveled to space have been women, and spacewalk teams have either been all-male or male-female.

McClain and Koch were both part of the 2013 NASA class that was 50 percent women.

NASA said the decision to change the plan was made in consultation with McClain after a spacewalk last week.

“Anne trained in M and L and thought she could use a large but decided after Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better,” wrote spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz on Twitter.

nasa, women, space walk
The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue. Pixabay

“In this case, it’s easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.”

The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

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Others said they were sad that a milestone moment on women’s space exploration had been deferred, but safety came first.

“I’m super disappointed about the all-woman spacewalk not happening as scheduled this Friday but I’m also super supportive of astronauts having the authority to say ‘I would be safer using a different piece of equipment’,” wrote Emily Lakdawalla, a senior editor at the U.S. nonprofit The Planetary Society.

“An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen.” (VOA)