Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty great, but Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is the smallest scientists have ever seen it.
According to the most recent Hubble Space Telescope observations, the colossal storm that makes up the spot is no “only” 10, 250 miles across. You could still plop the entire Earth in that badboy, easy, but it’s a far cry from its glory days. The spot was 14,500 miles across in 1979 and was estimated to be 25,500 miles in the 1800s.
The spot is estimated to have been recently shrinking 580 miles a year. No one knows why for sure.
“In our new observations it is apparent that very small eddies are feeding into the storm,” said Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We hypothesized that these may be responsible for the sudden change by altering the internal dynamics and energy of the Great Red Spot.”
Simon plans a study to test that hypothesis. In the meantime, I guess we might as well start getting used to the idea that we’ll eventually have to come up with a new name for the spot. Mediocre Red Spot just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.
[Source: Science Daily]