Jupiter is the largest and oldest planet in our solar system.
Its history spans 4.5 billion years. This gas giant is made of the same elements as a star, but it didn’t grow massive enough to ignite.
Jupiter’s appearance is the result of its swirling interior of gases and liquids – producing a tapestry of colorful cloud bands as well as the iconic Great Red Spot.
The Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm. It’s an anticyclone, and with no land mass on the planet to slow it down, the Great Red Spot has rages for over a century.
But scientists studying the spot have noticed that it has been changing over time. The color is deepening, and it’s actually shrinking and getting rounder.
Those studying it expected to therefore see the wind speeds inside the Great Red Spot increasing as the storm shrinks – like an ice skater who spins faster as she pulls in her arms. But this isn’t the case. Data reveals the storm isn’t spinning faster, it’s actually getting taller. You can think of it like working with pottery. As the wide lump of clay spins, forces within are driving it taller.
So from our perspective, looking down on the clouds, we see the spot smaller and rounder.
The Great Red Spot used to be big enough to fit three Earths.
Now, it’s just a little over one.
These discoveries were made by analyzing data from numerous space missions, including Voyager, Hubble, and most recently, Juno. And through more investigations, scientists hope to unlock more secrets of the mysterious Great Red Spot.
Clips, images credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Hubble space telescope, Voyager
Music credit: YouTube Audio Library
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