Hubble Space Telescope Takes Detailed Portrait of Jupiter

James Marshall
August 9, 2019

NASA's latest portraits of Jupiter were snapped on June 27, 2019, when Hubble had a good view of the Great Red Spot.

These observations of Jupiter form part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) programme, which began in 2014.

Vivid colors and swirling clouds are highlighted in the new Jupiter image, as well as a closeup look at its atmosphere.

The Great Red Spot has been the planet's most long-lasting feature. This huge anticyclonic storm is roughly the diameter of Earth and is rolling counterclockwise between two bands of clouds that are moving in opposite directions toward it.

The most prominent feature displayed in the new portrait is the Great Red Spot (GRS) - an enormous storm that has been churning across the surface of the Jovian planet for at least the past 150 years. Hubble will continue observations of Jupiter to gain insight into the storm.

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.

The storm itself is structured like a wedding cake, with an upper layer extending more than 3 miles higher than surrounding clouds, according to NASA. Much smaller storms appear on Jupiter as white or brown ovals that can last as little as a few hours or stretch on for centuries.

The worm-shaped feature located south of the Great Red Spot is a cyclone, a vortex spinning in the opposite direction to that in which the Great Red Spot spins.

Understanding Jupiter's climate is a long-term goal for astronomers. They are created by ammonia ice clouds that vary in height and thickness, with air flowing in different directions, depending on their latitudes.

The bands of colours are all separated by jet winds that reach speeds of 400mph (644kph).

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