A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) spacecraft will fly directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Monday, according to NPR.
NPR reported that the Juno vehicle will fly about 5,600 miles above the planet’s iconic landmark around 10 p.m. that evening, closer than any spacecraft before it.
“It’s lasted a really long time,” Scott Bolton, the principal scientist for NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter, said of the centuries-old giant storm.
“No scientists really understand exactly how the storm is created or why it could last so long,” added Bolton, who also works at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
“It’s possible that the roots are quite deep. So we’ll be able to take a look at that and see what’s underneath the cloud tops.”
Some Twitter users on Monday cheered the news that Juno would fly over the Great Red Spot, which is a storm that is larger than the Earth in diameter.
Juno is flying past Jupiters great red spot right now! Can't wait for pics.— Paul Senior (@DrMutanis) July 10, 2017
NPR reported that Juno’s orbit takes it near Jupiter ever 53 days, with each of its passes over the Great Red Spot focusing on a different type of science.
Juno’s microwave radiometer, for example, can reportedly see what kind of atmospheric structures underpin the spot.
Another tool, meanwhile, can measure the gravity field around the storm, which scientists do not yet fully understand.
“Maybe there’s a blob going around Jupiter that’s underneath the Red Spot, and we may be able to see that,” Bolton said. “Jupiter is stunning when you get near it.”
Juno’s main antenna will reportedly face away from Earth during its closest proximity to the spot, meaning data and pictures of the landmark will take several days to reach humanity.