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A new batch of images provided by ESA/NASA’s Hubble telescope confirms what scientists suspected for nearly a decade – the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is getting smaller at an alarming rate. Scientists also reported that the monstrous feature is also getting more circular in the process.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a super-storm larger than our planet with winds howling at speeds of up to 340 mph. NASA suggested that the storm lost 150 miles since last year and continues to shrink. Nevertheless, the spot is still gigantic on our scale. With its 10,000 miles in diameter, it could fit our planet and its moon.
When we asked NASA scientists whether the trademark spot could someday vanish, researchers said that they had no idea whether or when it would vanish.
Amy Simon, a planetary scientist with the U.S. space agency, recently told reporters that a more probable scenario would be for the spot to stabilize when it reached a smaller size. That may happen in the next decade. Simon explained that researchers first detected the spot in the late 1870s and it was much larger at that time.
NASA researchers also suggested that the spot changed its color. In past years, it was more reddish, but now it has a more orangey tint. Additionally, its core is less visible now than it was in the not so distant past, but scientists couldn’t provide an explanation for the change.
Hubble made the discovery with help from its newly upgraded tool called the Wide Field Camera. NASA scientists combined all the snapshots taken over a period of 10 hours and produced a detailed global map of the gas giant.
Simon added that all Jupiter data gathered by the Hubble space telescope provided scientists with “hints that something really exciting is going on.”
“This time is no exception,”
the NASA researcher added.
Yet, NASA scientists recently detected another ‘exciting’ feature related to the gigantic cosmic vortex – an elongated mystery object being twisted by the strong winds within the storm. NASA pledged that Hubble would use its instruments to get detailed view of the weather on other gas giants such as Neptune and Uranus.
Reports on atmospheric conditions on the planets would be beamed back to Earth every year. The new program, which was named the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy, is designed to help scientists keep an eye on the atmosphere of giant planets and keep track of changes in their weather.
Image Source: Wikimedia