The Great Red Spot of Jupiter – the largest storm in the solar system – has been raging for centuries. Over the past 100 years however, the cyclone has been dwindling, but recent observations with Hubble show that the wind speeds may be picking up again. Is this just temporary, or will the storm return to its former glory?
Using the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers have been monitoring the Great Red Spot for over a decade. They discovered that the wind speed of the outermost edge of the storm, known as the high-speed ring, has picked up speed by 8 percent between 2009 and 2020.
“When I initially saw the results, I asked ‘Does this make sense?’ No one has ever seen this before,” said Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the analysis. “But this is something only Hubble can do. Hubble’s longevity and ongoing observations make this revelation possible.”
While meteorologists have a fleet of orbiting spacecraft to continually monitor storms on Earth, tracking the evolution of the Great Red Spot is far more challenging. “Since we don’t have a storm chaser plane at Jupiter, we can’t continuously measure the winds on ...