Imagine winning the World Series, the lottery and a Nobel Prize all in one day. That's pretty much how scientists and engineers in mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., felt one year ago when the 1 ton, six-wheeled rover named Curiosity landed safely on Mars.
Within minutes, the rover began sending pictures back to Earth. In the past year it has sent back a mountain of data and pictures that scientists are sorting through, trying to get a better understanding of the early climate on Mars.
Jupiter's Great Red Spot might be, quite literally, the perfect storm: It's a swirling, anti-cyclonic vortex that's big enough to engulf three Earths and has been raging in the atmosphere of the solar system's largest planet for at least 400 years.
Even in a backyard telescope, the Great Red Spot shows up as easily the planet's most prominent feature, sporting "a conspicuous deep red eye embedded in swirling layers of pale yellow, orange and white," as NASA describes it.