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Hubble's Latest Gaze Reveals Jupiter's Dynamic Weather Patterns
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Hubble's Latest Gaze Reveals Jupiter's Dynamic Weather Patterns
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 15, 2024

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has once again captured the majestic beauty of Jupiter, showcasing the planet's vivid weather patterns in new images taken on January 5-6, 2024. As part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, Hubble conducts annual observations of Jupiter and its outer solar system counterparts, uncovering the dynamic cloud cover and hazes propelled by robust winds, revealing a constantly shifting panorama of atmospheric phenomena.

In the latest imagery, the Great Red Spot, a colossal storm large enough to engulf Earth, is prominently displayed. Nearby, the smaller storm known as Red Spot Jr., identified for its varying shades from beige to red since its formation from merging storms in 1998 and 2000, shows a slightly redder hue this year. The reasons behind the red coloration remain a mystery, with speculations pointing towards sulfur, phosphorus, or organic compounds. Red Spot Jr. and the Great Red Spot, moving in opposite directions, cross paths approximately every two years, showcasing the organized chaos within Jupiter's atmosphere.

Also captured in the recent Hubble snapshots is a pair of storms in the planet's other hemisphere, resembling a "skinned knee" with their deep red and reddish hues. These neighboring cyclone and anticyclone storms, spinning in opposite directions, highlight the alternating high- and low-pressure systems that dominate Jupiter's weather. Their interaction is a dance of avoidance due to their contrasting rotational directions.

"The diverse storm patterns and the abundance of smaller white clouds illustrate the intense activity currently ongoing in Jupiter's atmosphere," explained Amy Simon, OPAL project lead at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Additionally, the images offer a glimpse of Io, Jupiter's innermost Galilean moon and the most volcanically active body in our Solar System, despite its modest size. Hubble's keen observation capabilities, especially in blue and violet wavelengths, allow it to document Io's volcanic activity and surface features, continuing the legacy of discovery initiated by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1979.

Related Links
Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy program (OPAL)
The million outer planets of a star called Sol

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