You probably learnt in school that Jupiter is a stormy planet that has an unpleasant and unwelcoming environment and you also might have learned about the Great Red Spot, which is literally a storm that is three times the size of Earth. But some of that is old news and scientists have been keeping a close eye on the planet and the way it has been evolving.
Jupiter has been making changes to its atmosphere and its chemical interactions. Scientists have also managed to put together a number of maps that tell stories which we never knew until now. The comparison to previous maps already points out two very important distinctions: there is a new wave located just at the north of Jupiter’s equator and there is a new filamentary feature in the middle of th Red Spot.
Amy Simon, a planetary scientist working for NASA, has declared that “every time we look at Jupiter, we get tantalizing hints that something really exciting is going on.” Even if Jupiter is miles away from the sun, somewhere in the middle of our planetary system and untouched by any kind of life forms, it is still conducting its own planetary experiments, changing its own composition.
The two new maps were designed by Simon and her colleagues with the aid of the Hubble space telescope. They made use of the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 and patiently studied the planet until they could establish the patters and create these two maps, which reveal new features and, perhaps, other things that NASA prefers to keep as a secret, for now. What is fascinating, however, is that this new technology has enabled researchers to determine storm speeds on Jupiter.
Even the Great Red Spot might lose its legendary name, mostly because it looks like an orange spot than a red one. It is also harder to distinguish than it was 10 years ago. There is also a filament that can be noticed in the middle of the Spot. This filament is very hard to notice because it twists and turns in the storm with 330 miles per hour winds giving it a hard time. Occasionally, the speeds are even greater than that.
Even if Jupiter is a stormy planet, its twists and turns are always changing it. It is quite interesting to perceive it this way: even if we discovered the planet decades ago, it is a new planet every few years for us to discover.
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