"Portrait of Jupiter from Cassini" by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute / Public Domain

Astronomers just stitched together an unprecedented portrait of Jupiter in infrared — and realized its Great Red Spot is full of holes

May 11, 2020

By Morgan McFall-Johnsen

New snapshots of Jupiter reveal its turbulent weather in infrared — the spectrum of light just beyond visible wavelengths.

To get these unprecedentedly sharp images, a team of researchers from NASA and the University of California, Berkeley combined data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Juno probe that orbits Jupiter, and the Gemini Observatory on Earth. The team released the images alongside a research paper in The Astrophysical Journal on Thursday.

Along with new mapping of Jupiter’s lightning, the images reveal that the dark patches in the planet’s Great Red Spot are holes in its cloud cover, and not different types of cloud.

“It’s kind of like a jack-o-lantern,” Michael Wong, a planetary scientist at UC Berkeley, said of the Great Red Spot in a press release. “You see bright infrared light coming from cloud-free areas, but where there are clouds, it’s really dark in the infrared.”

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