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July 24, 2017

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A NASA spacecraft got this close-up look at Jupiter's Great Red Spot

It's arguably the most recognizable feature of any planet in our solar system, on a par with Saturn's rings. Now, thanks to a NASA flyby, we've gotten a closer, clear look than ever before of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

The images reveal a tangle of dark, venous clouds weaving their way through a massive crimson oval. The JunoCam imager aboard NASA's Juno mission snapped the pics of the solar system's largest planetary inhabitant during a flyby on Monday.

The images were downlinked from the spacecraft's memory on Tuesday and placed on the mission's JunoCam website Wednesday morning.

"For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter's Great Red Spot," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

"Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm. It will take us some time to analyze all the data from not only JunoCam, but Juno's eight science instruments, to shed some new light on the past, present and future of the Great Red Spot."

Measuring 16,350 kilometers wide as of April 3, the Great Red Spot is 1.3 times as wide as Earth, according to NASA. The storm has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years.

"These highly-anticipated images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot are the 'perfect storm' of art and science. With data from Voyager, Galileo, New Horizons, Hubble and now Juno, we have a better understanding of the composition and evolution of this iconic feature," said Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science.

"We are pleased to share the beauty and excitement of space science with everyone."

Click here for more photos.

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