In a newly released image of Jupiter, you can see Red Spot Jr. dot shifting color again, and a storm brewing in the northern hemisphere. Or, because the photo is so crisp, you can stare at it and marvel and not even worry what all the things are!
Old And Awesome
The Hubble Space Telescope has been circling our planet above the atmosphere for 30 years. Since its launch in 1990, it has led to over 17,000 peer-reviewed papers based on its discoveries, which number over 1.4 million. But just because it’s now middle-aged doesn’t mean it is anywhere near close to done. Hubble is better now than when it first launched thanks to five crewed missions to upgrade its equipment over the years.
Now, Hubble continues to impress with a newly released image of Jupiter.
Not only is the new image simply stunning, but there are some interesting features worth noting. In the northern hemisphere, on the left side of the image, you can see a white blotch, which is a storm that got roiling on August 18 and is currently moving at 348 MPH.
“While it’s common for storms to pop up in this region, often several at once, this particular disturbance appears to have more structure behind it than observed in previous storms,” says a NASA/ESA statement about the image. “Trailing behind the plume are small, counterclockwise dark clumps also not witnessed in the past. Researchers speculate this may be the beginning of a longer-lasting northern hemisphere spot, perhaps to rival the legendary Great Red Spot that dominates the southern hemisphere.”
Also of note is the storm known as Red Spot Jr., which appears below Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot. Originally red, and now mostly white, the space agencies point out that the storm system seems to be changing back to red again. And they also say that the Great Red Spot itself now measures 9,818 miles across—large enough to swallow Earth. For a time, the mega-storm, which was first observed in 1930, was shrinking in size, but the researchers say that contraction has slowed significantly.
To the left of Jupiter, the ice moon Europa is visible, which has been the target of lots of interest from astronomers thanks to water vapor in its atmosphere.
As if one gorgeous image of Jupiter wasn’t enough, the researchers also released a new multi-wavelength image of the planet, which you can see here.
“A multi-wavelength observation in ultraviolet/visible/near-infrared light of Jupiter obtained by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope on August 25, 2020, is giving researchers an entirely new view of the giant planet,” said the agencies. “Hubble’s near-infrared imaging, combined with ultraviolet views, provides a unique panchromatic look that offers insights into the altitude and distribution of the planet’s haze and particles. This complements Hubble’s visible-light pictures that show the ever-changing cloud patterns.”
Considering that both images were taken from over four million miles away from Earth, the shots are particularly impressive, don’t you think?