Scientists were surprised to discover that the Great Red Spot is undergoing some truly massive changes in recent years.
The iconic Great Red Spot is slowly but surely disappearing, but as it goes, it is taking on some fascinating new shapes. The huge storm, big enough to swallow the Earth several times over, will almost certainly disappear within our lifetimes, and scientists at NASA believe that it is changing its shape in the process for some reason.
The images, taken by the Juno spacecraft currently orbiting the planet, shows that the storm has reached its smallest size ever recorded and it is also growing taller, with winds stretching higher into the atmosphere of the largest planet in our solar system. The color is also changing to, shifting from a rufous red to a orange color thanks to the fact that gasses are now getting his with ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Even at its smaller size, it is still far more massive than our Earth, but in the coming decades it is likely to disappear altogether. Scientists are closely studying this storm to learn more about Jupiter and about the formation of planets in general.
“Observations of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) span more than 150 years,” the abstract states. “[I]ts north–south color asymmetry has decreased, and the dark core has become smaller. 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.”