Jupiter's Great Red Spot has never looked greater. On Monday, NASA's Juno spacecraft got closer to the giant storm than any man-made object in history, the Washington Post reports. According to CBS News, Juno came within 2,200 miles of Jupiter's clouds and 5,600 miles of the Great Red Spot itself. On Wednesday, NASA started releasing the closest photos of the storm ever taken. The images are composites of photos taken using red, green, blue, and infrared filters, Vox explains. Some of them have an hour-glass shape due to Juno's spinning. In addition to photos, Juno sent back data on Jupiter's magnetic fields, the mass and composition of its atmosphere, and more. This data will likely be studied for years.
The Great Spot is the biggest storm in the solar system. Its 400mph winds have been going for nearly 200 years and likely longer than that. At 10,000 miles wide, it would cover the Earth. "Here's the largest and most fierce storm in the entire solar system and it's lasted hundreds of years," NASA's Scott Bolton tells CBS. "The question is, how can it last that long? What's powering it, how's it really working inside?" In addition to those questions, scientists hope to use the data from Juno to find out how deep the Great Red Spot goes, why it's red, and why it's been shrinking in recent decades. The answers to these questions could help us understand more about how the solar system formed and how weather works both at home and throughout the galaxy. (Read more Jupiter stories.)