The Jeuns

‘Hubble telescope captures swirling giant storms on Jupiter’

March 17, 2024 | by The Jeuns

Recent images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope showcase the ever-changing weather patterns on Jupiter, the gas giant known for its massive cyclones and iconic Great Red Spot, which is larger than Earth.

The pictures, taken as part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, reveal the dynamic weather on both sides of Jupiter. These annual observations by Hubble also monitor the atmospheres of Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.

In one image, the Great Red Spot is seen alongside another feature called Red Spot Jr., with swirling storms moving in opposite directions. NASA notes that these storms are expected to pass each other every two years, as Red Spot Jr. emerged from storms merging between 1998 and 2000.

This year, Red Spot Jr. is regaining its red tint after briefly turning red in 2006 before returning to a pale beige color. Meanwhile, in the opposite hemisphere, a deep red cyclone and a reddish anticyclone are visible near the center of the image, indicating ongoing storm activity.

According to Amy Simon, the lead of the OPAL project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the multitude of storms and white clouds on Jupiter signifies a significant amount of atmospheric activity.

Similar to Earth’s atmospheric patterns, Jupiter’s storms spin in opposite directions, creating high- and low-pressure systems that interact as they move past each other. Hubble’s images also capture Jupiter’s moon, Io, famous for being the most volcanically active body in our solar system, positioned to the left of the gas giant in the photographs.

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