New Images Further Chart the Decline of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Oct 20, 2015

NASA, ESA, and A. Simon

By Jaime Trosper

Jupiter is known for many things, from its huge size to its 60-some exotic moons, but its Great Red Spot is inarguably one of its grandest features. Unfortunately, NASA revealed last year that Jupiter’s Great Spot is shrinking so drastically, it could completely disappear in a few short years.

First made note of by Giovanni Cassini (yes, the guy the Cassini mission to Saturn was named after), the Great Red Spot is a colossal storm that has been brewing in Jupiter’s upper-atmosphere for at least 400 years—though no one knows exactly how long it has been around, or exactly how it formed in the first place. Thanks to images and measurements taken by Hubble and space-based probes, we know that the storm’s red hue comes from an assortment of complex organic molecules: like sulfur and red phosphorus.

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4 comments on “New Images Further Chart the Decline of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

  • It’s a storm so I suppose it could blow out in time.

    Circulating “air” masses, seem common on planets with thick atmospheres!
    Neptune, gas giant with great dark spot

    The great dark spot and the small dark spot are oval-shaped anticyclones in Neptune’s atmosphere that are thought to be caused by the difference in temperature between the heat-producing core and the frigid cloud tops. The fastest winds in the solar system sweep them ‘backward’ around the planet (in a direction opposite to Neptune’s direction of spin).

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  • cerad
    Oct 21, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Global warming claims another victim.

    I think any reference to “warmth” on Jupiter, is relative between altitudes!
    With an average temperature of minus 234 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 145 degrees Celsius), Jupiter is frigid even in its warmest weather. Unlike Earth, whose temperature varies as one moves closer to or farther from the equator, Jupiter’s temperature depends more on height above the surface. This is because heat is driven not by the sun but by the interior of the planet.

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