The latter feature was imaged by Voyager 2 in 1989 and may have been an atmospheric hole rather than a storm. Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm that's about twice as wide as Earth, circling the planet in its southern hemisphere. Legal Statement. The study, published in Nature Physics, suggests that the storm is still as thick as it was 40 years ago, when NASA's Voyager flew past it in 1979. Its longitude, however, is subject to constant variation. There has been some controversy in the scientific community over whether Jupiter's Great Red Spot is actually shrinking, with recent reports suggesting the clouds are getting smaller. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill), JUPITER'S GREAT RED SPOT WON'T DIE ANYTIME SOON, RESEARCHER SAYS. In the 21st century, the Great Red Spot was seen to be shrinking in size. Close-up of Jupiter's Great Red Spot as seen by a Voyager spacecraft. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: A Swirling Mystery The largest and most powerful hurricanes ever recorded on Earth spanned over 1,000 miles across with winds gusting up to around 200 mph. NASA's Juno probe has been orbiting the celestial giant since 2016 and passes over both of the planet's polar regions every 53 days. A new study suggests that the clouds are shrinking, but not in ways researchers might expect. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS) has fascinated researchers for nearly 200 years, having been continuously observed since 1830. Scientists aren't sure yet why this is happening, but it could be due to chemical reactions as new material is brought up from below.  The reason the storm has continued to exist for centuries is that there is no planetary surface to provide friction (only a liquid core of hydrogen); circulating gas eddies persist for a very long time in the atmosphere because there is nothing to oppose their angular momentum. In comparison, Earth has a diameter of around 8,000 miles. Jupiter's Great Red Spot rotates counterclockwise, with a period of about six Earth days or fourteen Jovian days. This enhanced-color image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft. It's one of Jupiter's most talked about features and spans 9,800 miles end to end. "From this, we define scaling laws for their horizontal and vertical aspect ratios as a function of the ambient rotation, stratification and zonal wind velocity.".  With fluctuations in visibility, Cassini's spot was observed from 1665 to 1713, but the 118-year observational gap makes the identity of the two spots inconclusive. It is not known how long the spot will last, or whether the change is a result of normal fluctuations. The colorful, wavy cloud pattern seen to the left (west) of the Red Spot is a region of extraordinarily complex and variable wave motion.  Part of a series of panels in which different (magnified) heavenly bodies serve as backdrops for various Italian scenes, and all overseen by the astronomer Eustachio Manfredi for accuracy, Creti's painting is the first known to depict the Great Red Spot as red. Since scientists started regularly observing the storm in 1850, they have noticed that the storm occasionally shrinks and grows, but is currently on a shrinking trend. Some astronomers speculate that, back in 1665, when astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini (the namesake for NASA's Cassini mission) wrote about a "Permanent Storm," he was referring to the Great Red Spot. , Careful tracking of atmospheric features revealed the Great Red Spot's counter-clockwise circulation as far back as 1966, observations dramatically confirmed by the first time-lapse movies from the Voyager fly-bys. By "We determine the generic force balance responsible for their three-dimensional pancake-like shape," the researchers added. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper. The Great Red Spot’s longevity is partially be explained by the fact that Jupiter doesn't have a solid surface. NASA MISSION TO EUROPA COULD 'POSSIBLY SENSE LIFE'. Or you might think of the iconic storm, that huge, churning red hurricane twice the size of Earth that's remained a signature of our solar system's largest planet since for more than a century. The new study, which estimated the GRS is approximately 105 miles thick, will await NASA's Juno observations to further observe how thick the storm is and continue to learn about the planet's formation and history. JoAnna Wendel - Space.com contributor Much more convincing is Giovanni Cassini's description of a "permanent spot" the following year. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Amy Simon-Miller, of the Goddard Space Flight Center, predicted the storms would have their closest passing on 4 July 2006. , For example, the first sighting of the Great Red Spot is often credited to Robert Hooke, who described a spot on the planet in May 1664. Color animation of Jupiter's cloud motion and circulation of the Great Red Spot. Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS) has fascinated researchers for nearly 200 years, having been continuously observed since 1830. , Jupiter's clouds taken on 27 June 2019 by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.. She worked with Imke de Pater and Phil Marcus of UC Berkeley and a team of professional astronomers since April 2006 to study the storms using the Hubble Space Telescope; on 20 July 2006, the two storms were photographed passing each other by the Gemini Observatory without converging. , The Great Red Spot may have existed since before 1665, but the present spot was first seen only after 1830, and well-studied only after a prominent apparition in 1879. As the storm contracts, it also grows taller and changes color, becoming a more intense orange. Scientists believe that beneath these layers exists an ocean of liquid hydrogen. Two of Jupiter's 79 known moons, Europa and Io, are also a source of intense interest for researchers. This creates a region of upper atmosphere that is 1,600 K (1,330 °C; 2,420 °F)—several hundred Kelvin warmer than the rest of the planet at this altitude. However, it is likely that Hooke's spot was in another belt altogether (the North Equatorial Belt, as opposed to the current Great Red Spot's location in the South Equatorial Belt). "There is evidence in the archived observations that the Great Red Spot has grown and shrunk over time," Reta Beebe, an emeritus professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, said in a statement from NASA.. "However, the storm is quite small now, and it's been a long time since it last grew. Its visibility is apparently coupled to the SEB; when the belt is bright white, the spot tends to be dark, and when it is dark, the spot is usually light. , A persistent storm in the atmosphere of Jupiter, "The Solar System - The Planet Jupiter – The Great Red Spot", "Early history of the great red spot on Jupiter", "The Great Red Spot Descends Deep Into Jupiter", "Jupiter's Great Red Spot: A Swirling Mystery", "Donato Creti, Astronomical observations", "Is Jupiter's Great Red Spot disintegrating?  It was next observed in September 1831, with 60 recorded observations between then and 1878 when continuous observations began. Cloud details as small as 160 km (99 mi) across were visible. The Great Red Spot should not be confused with the Great Dark Spot, a feature observed near the northern pole of Jupiter in 2000 with the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft. All rights reserved. The Great Red Spot is a storm itself.  Because Jupiter does not rotate uniformly at all latitudes, astronomers have defined three different systems for defining the longitude. It's unclear what the oceans on Europa are made up of, but the Hubble Space Telescope detected the presence of sodium chloride on its surface, according to a study published in June. The red colour of the Great Red Spot is thought to be caused by organic molecules, red phosphorous, or other elements that come from inside Jupiter. On Earth, hurricanes start to slow and break apart when they reach solid land, but with nowhere for the Great Red Spot to make landfall, the storm can rage on and on. Reference Article: Facts about Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper. That's more than twice the speed of even the strongest hurricanes on Earth, which can generate wind speeds of up to 175 mph (281 km/h). Vibrant bands of clouds carried by winds that can exceed 400 mph continuously circle the planet's atmosphere. At the start of 2004, it had approximately half the longitudinal extent it had a century ago, when it reached a size of 40,000 km (25,000 mi), about three times the diameter of Earth.  Research suggests that the storm produces extreme amounts of gravity waves and acoustic waves, owing to the turbulence of the storm. Acoustic (sound) waves rising from the turbulence of the storm below have been proposed as an explanation for the heating of this region. All rights reserved. ", "Gemini Captures Close Encounter of Jupiter's Red Spots", "NASA's Juno Spacecraft Spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot", "NASA's Juno Spacecraft Enters Into Orbit Around Jupiter", "Interim reports on STB (Oval BA passing GRS), STropB, GRS (internal rotation measured), EZ(S. Eq. NASA is launching a mission to Europa within the next decade, a trek that could answer whether the icy celestial body could be habitable for humans and support life. Jupiter's Great Red Spot rotates counterclockwise, with a period of about six Earth days or fourteen Jovian days.  Though winds around the edge of the spot peak at about 432 km/h (268 mph), currents inside it seem stagnant, with little inflow or outflow. ", Related: Jupiter Quiz: Test Your Jovian Smarts.  The rotation period of the spot has decreased with time, perhaps as a direct result of its steady reduction in size. It likely has a surface temperature of roughly 238 degrees below zero and may have oceans underneath its icy surface, according to a July 2018 statement from NASA. The Great Red Spot has been observed since 5 September 1831. Space is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. No Jovian feature was explicitly described in writing as red before the late 19th century.. Its drift rate has changed dramatically over the years and has been linked to the brightness of the South Equatorial Belt and the presence or absence of a South Tropical Disturbance. The storm that was seen in the 17th century may have been different than the storm that exists today. The spot occasionally disappears, becoming evident only through the Red Spot Hollow, which is its location in the South Equatorial Belt (SEB). Some theories propose that the colour is caused by reactions between these chemicals in Jupiter’s atmosphere, or by lightning striking the molecules. The acoustic waves travel vertically upwards to a height of 500 mi (800 km) above the storm where they break in the upper atmosphere, converting wave energy into heat. Disturbance; dramatic darkening; NEB interactions), & NNTB", 10.1175/1520-0469(1974)031<1471:OJROR>2.0.CO;2, "Hubble Showcases New Portrait of Jupiter", "Jupiter's Great Red Spot Likely a Massive Heat Source", "Jupiter's Atmosphere and Great Red Spot", "Researcher predicts global climate change on Jupiter as giant planet's spots disappear", Video based on Juno's Perijove 7 overflight, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Great_Red_Spot&oldid=987042643, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 4 November 2020, at 14:55.
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