Hubble Showcases New Portrait of Jupiter

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 9, 2019

One of the most unforgettable features of Hubble's image are the vibrant clouds moving toward the Great Red Spot, a storm that is rotating counterclockwise between two bands of clouds.

Hubble, which NASA describes as an "interplanetary weatherman", conducts yearly monitoring of Jupiter and scientists hope that the space telescope will reveal information on the shifting behavior of the planet's clouds, said a NASA press release.

Hubble's latest shot of Jupiter was taken as part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, which has the overreaching goal of deepening humanity's understanding of the processes that shape the atmospheres of the gas giants populating our solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

One new key to the shrinking-spot puzzle could be the color intensity of the clouds that Hubble spotted in its fresh image, which was obtained on June 27.

Unlike Earth's solar-powered atmosphere, Jupiter's chaotic weather system is driven from blistering temperatures from within its gaseous core, churning a brilliant swirl of colorful gasses on the planet's surface. Bands of clouds can be seen moving toward the circular storm that matches Earth's diameter, according to the Hubble site.

Scientist have no idea why the Great Red Spot is shrinking and continue to observe Jupiter try and learn why.

This global map of Jupiter released by NASA on August 8, 2019 was created using imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope.

"The bands are created by differences in the thickness and height of the ammonia ice clouds", STScI officials said in a statement.

"Astronomers don't have definitive answers, for example, why cloud bands and storms change colours or why storms shrink in size". These hues and their changes can provide important details on Jupiter's evolving atmosphere. "The two white, oval-shaped features are anticyclones, like small versions of the Great Red Spot", STScI officials said.

"Jupiter's upper atmosphere is a riot of colourful clouds, contained in bands that whisk along at different wind speeds and in alternating directions". "Researchers have observed cyclones with a wide variety of different appearances across the planet".

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