- The red clouds of the massive storm are turning counterclockwise at speeds now exceeding 400 mph.
- The storm has raged since at least 1830 and possibly since the mid-17th century.
- The observations of the storm’s winds were made using the Hubble Space Telescope.
The biggest storm in our solar system is getting wilder. Winds in Jupiter’s large red spot are getting faster, astronomers reported in one new study published Monday.
Although not a dramatic increase, “we find that the average wind speed in the Great Red Spot has been rising slightly over the past decade,” says study author Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley, in a announcement.
Specifically, researchers determined that wind has increased by up to 8 percent from 2009 to 2020.
“When I first saw the results, I asked ‘Does it make sense?’ No one has ever seen this before, ”Wong said.
The observations of the storm’s winds were made using the Hubble Space Telescope. “Since we do not have a fighter jet at Jupiter, we can not continuously measure the winds at the site,” explained Amy Simon from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who contributed to the research. “Hubble is the only telescope that has the kind of time coverage and spatial resolution that can capture Jupiter’s winds in this detail.”
The red clouds of the massive storm are turning counterclockwise at speeds now exceeding 400 mph – and the vortex is larger than Earth itself, according to NASA. The red spot is partly legendary because humans have been observing it for at least 150 years.
In fact, the storm has raged since at least 1830 and possibly since the mid-17th century, when the red spot was perhaps first seen from Earth.
So what does the increase in wind speed mean? “It’s hard to diagnose since Hubble can’t see the bottom of the storm very well,” Wong said. “Everything under the cloud tops is invisible in the data. But it’s an interesting piece of data that can help us understand what’s burning the big red spot and how it sustains energy.”
There is still a lot of work to be done to fully understand it, according to NASA.
The study was published in the journal Geophysical research letters.
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