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Something strange is happening to Jupiters Great Red Spot

Issued: 2018-03-17

Juno’s latest images have revealed some surprising changes to the storm, which is now smaller in diameter than has ever before been observed. Its swirling winds are reaching higher into the planet’s atmosphere than before, stretching the storm taller as they swirl upward. At the same time, its iconic crimson hue is becoming more orange, likely as a result of the highest gasses being exposed to ultraviolet radiation.

The Great Red Spot is still great. It can still swallow the entire Earth whole, which is a pretty impressive feat for any weather feature, but it’s definitely less impressive than it once was. As NASA notes, a century and a half ago it was so wide that you could fit four Earths inside of its footprint, so it’s clearly losing a lot of steam. The study was published in The Astronomical Journal.

“Its north–south color asymmetry has decreased, and the dark core has become smaller,” the researchers write. “Internal velocities have increased on its east and west edges, and decreased on the north and south, resulting in decreased relative vorticity and circulation. The GRS’s color changes from 2014 to 2017 may be explained by changes in stretching vorticity or divergence acting to balance the decrease in relative vorticity.” – READ MORE

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