Friday, May 16, 2014

Jupiter and Its Not-So-Great Red Spot

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a churning anticyclonic storm. It shows up in images of the giant planet as a conspicuous deep red eye embedded in swirling layers of pale yellow, orange and white. Winds inside this Jovian storm rage at immense speeds, reaching several hundreds of kilometers per hour.

Historic observations as far back as the late 1800s gauged this turbulent spot to span about 41 000 kilometers at its widest point – wide enough to fit three Earths comfortably side by side. In 1979 and 1980 the NASA Voyager fly-bys measured the spot at a shrunken 23,335 kilometers across. Now, Hubble has spied this feature to be smaller than ever before.

This full-disc image of Jupiter was taken on 21 April 2014 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

Note: For more information, see The Shrinking of Jupiter's Great Red Spot, Jupiter's Great Red Spot is Smaller Than Ever Measured, and Jupiter's Great Red Spot is Shrinking.

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