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It has been monitored since 1830, and may have existed for more than 350 years, the USA space agency said.

The most distinctive feature of the largest planet in our solar system will get its first close-up inspection by a NASA spacecraft later today with instruments onboard built at the University of Iowa.

Bolton noted that now, the spacecraft and her "cloud-penetrating" science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of the storm go, and help scientists understand how the Great Red Spot storm works and what makes it so unique.

The flyby of the Juno spacecraft, surveilling the 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm, is scheduled for 9:55 pm Monday (0155 GMT Tuesday).

"We'll be looking, as we pass over the Great Red Spot, for radio emissions we call "whistlers" that are associated with lightning", Kurth says.

On July 4 at 10:30 p.m. EDT Juno logged exactly one year orbiting Jupiter. "We'll be curious to see whether there's lightning coming from the Great Red Spot or around it".

People have been observing this enormous, anti-cyclonic storm for over 300 years, and today, NASA's Juno spacecraft will be flying directly over it, giving us our closest look yet.

At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops, says NASA. Juno has already sent back several rounds of data from Jupiter, but the next one will be particularly fascinating.

The images captured by Juno will take a few days to transmit to Earth because of the position of Juno's antenna, NPR said.

The Great Red Spot, courtesy Voyager 1. Juno's altitude will have increased by this point in its flyby, but it will still be a mere 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Red Spot. "Each new orbit brings us closer to the heart of Jupiter's radiation belt, but so far the spacecraft has weathered the storm of electrons surrounding Jupiter better than we could have ever imagined".

Juno will observe Jupiter's gravity and magnetic fields, atmospheric dynamics and composition.

Bolton noted that maybe there is something massive below the Red Spot that is contributing to its long existence. "Until now, we've basically relied on images of the cloud tops".


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