Years worth of observations, and it was concluded that the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is getting smaller, and NASA scientists have no idea for how long that will continue. It’s an interesting phenomenon that leads to numerous questions, assumptions, and unpredictable results.
Perhaps it’s still exciting as it is frustrating that decades of research may still be met with surprises. Scientists now question whether the Great Red Spot will eventually vanish from existence entirely. It could arguably be considered space’s most famous attraction in terms of location on foreign planets.
Its fame is long standing as well. According to NASA planetary scientist, Amy Simon, the Great Red Spot on Jupiter has been there since late 1870s, and they have observed a significant decrease in its size. Compared to 2014, the trademark feature of the planet is now 150 miles smaller than it was, and it seems to be continually shrinking.
This still leaves it at a 10,000 miles diameter, which is enough to fit Earth in there around two to three times, but the changes are noticeable. In fact, the Great Red Spot is reportedly not so red these days. It’s becoming more orange, and its core is much less distinct after losing some of its intense coloring. The change is reportedly consistent with long-term estimations, but it is faster than usual.
However, according to Simon, its size is expected to simply remain stable at a slower size, and not continuingly contract. It’s suggested that the Great Red Spot will stop shrinking and eventually settle at a new diameter at some point in the next decade.
The new images were captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, with the aid of its high-end and high-performing Wide Field Camera 3. It also spotted an odd filament across almost the entire width of the vortex. It rotates, twists and distorts against the 340 miles per hour winds within the storms.
More changes were spotted across Jupiter’s North Equatorial Belt. A very subtle wave was noted that has been spotted just once before by Voyager 2. The elusive motion was found at 16 degrees north latitude, where the region was littered with cyclones and anticyclones. It was previously believed that the images captured by Voyager 2 were caught as a mere stroke of luck or just a fluke. These new findings revealed that it was simply rare.
Photos captured by the Hubble Telescope continue to fascinate and amaze scientists. For each time they glance at Jupiter, it seems that there’s always something to observe and an exciting event happening.
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