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Jupiter's Great Red Spot Getting Taller as it Shrinks

13 Mar 2018, 21:58 UTC
Jupiter's Great Red Spot Getting Taller as it Shrinks
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Though once big enough to swallow three Earths with room to spare, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been shrinking for a century and a half. Nobody is sure how long the storm will continue to contract or whether it will disappear altogether. A new study suggests that it hasn’t all been downhill, though. The storm seems to have increased in area at least once along the way, and it’s growing taller as it gets smaller.“Storms are dynamic, and that’s what we see with the Great Red Spot. It’s constantly changing in size and shape, and its winds shift, as well,” said Amy Simon, an expert in planetary atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new paper, published in the Astronomical Journal.Observations of Jupiter date back centuries, but the first confirmed sighting of the Great Red Spot was in 1831. (Researchers aren’t certain whether earlier observers who saw a red spot on Jupiter were looking at the same storm.)Keen observers have long been able to measure the size and drift of the Great Red Spot by fitting their telescopes with an eyepiece scored with crosshairs. A continuous record of at least one observation ...

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