By Catherine Griffin, Science World Report, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Oct. 14, 2015 – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, the storm that whirls on the planet, is still shrinking. Researchers have collected new Jupiter images that reveal a bit more about what’s happening on the gas giant.
“Every time we look at Jupiter, we get tantalizing hints that something really exciting is going on,” said Amy Simon, a planetary scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a news release. “This time is no exception.”
In fact, Simon and her colleagues created two global maps of Jupiter from observations made using Hubble’s high-performance Wide Field Camera 3. The two maps represent nearly back-to-back rotations of the planet, making it possible to determine the speeds of Jupiter’s winds.
In fact, the new images confirm that the Great Red Spot continues to shrink and become more circular rather than oval. The long axis of the storm is about 150 miles shorter now than it was in 2014. In addition, the storm has recently been shrinking faster than usual; this latest change, though, is consistent with the long-term trend.
The storm occurring on Jupiter is more orange than red these days. In addition, its core, which typically has a more intense color, is less distinct than it used to be. However, you can see an unusual wispy filament spanning almost the entire width of the vortex.
While the new findings have shown researchers a bit more about Jupiter, this isn’t the only set of observations that will occur. The efforts are part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy program, which will also look at Neptune, Uranus and Saturn.
For more information about the program, visit NASA’s website.
New imagery from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is revealing details never before seen on Jupiter. High-resolution maps and spinning globes (rendered in the 4k Ultra HD format) are the first products to come from a program to study the solar system’s outer planets each year using Hubble. The observations are designed to capture a broad range of features, including winds, clouds, storms and atmospheric chemistry. These annual studies will help current and future scientists see how such giant worlds change over time.