Close-up the Jupiter"s great Red spot as checked out by a Voyager smashville247.netcraft.(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
When girlfriend think that Jupiter, you could think of its huge size, or colorful bands of gases stretching across its face. Or you can think the the above storm, that huge, churning red hurricane double the dimension of earth that"s continued to be a signature of our solar system"s biggest planet due to the fact that for an ext than a century. This is Jupiter"s great Red Spot and it has actually captivated people for generations.

You are watching: The great red spot, a hurricane-like storm with twice the diameter of earth, is found on


Jupiter"s good Red point out was very first observed in 1831 by amateur astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, therefore we recognize the storm has existed because that at least 150 years. Yet it might be even older than that. Some astronomers speculate that, ago in 1665, as soon as astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini (the namesake for NASA"s Cassini mission) wrote about a "Permanent Storm," he was referring come the an excellent Red Spot.

Related: Photos: The Galilean Moons that Jupiter


What is the good Red Spot?

Jupiter"s an excellent Red clues is a large storm that"s about twice as broad as Earth, circling the world in its southern hemisphere. At the storm’s center, winds are relatively calm, but on the edges, wind speeds with 270-425 mph (430-680 km/h). That"s more than double the speed of even the the strongest hurricanes ~ above Earth, which have the right to generate wind speed of as much as 175 mph (281 km/h).

The storm is had by one eastward-moving atmospheric band to the north and a westward-moving band to that south. Those swirling bands are also what formed the storm in the an initial place and also have kept the storm spinning for more than a century, glen Orton, a lead Juno mission team member and also planetary scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told organization Insider.


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This enhanced-color picture of Jupiter"s great Red point out was produced by citizens scientist Jason significant using data indigenous the JunoCam imager ~ above NASA"s Juno smashville247.netcraft. (Image credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major)

The an excellent Red Spot’s longevity is partially be defined by the truth that Jupiter doesn"t have actually a heavy surface. Jupiter"s "sky" is 70 km (44 miles) deep, and consists the cloud layers make of ammonia ice, ammonium hydrosulfide or water ice and also vapor. Scientists think that beneath these layers exists an s of liquid hydrogen. And beneath that ocean is the planet"s main point — however scientists smashville247.net not certain yet what Jupiter is made of. ~ above Earth, hurricanes begin to slow and also break apart as soon as they with solid land, yet with i do not have anything for the great Red spot to make landfall, the storm can rage on and on.

Related: Jupiter increase Close: tour the 1st Amazing Flyby image by NASA"s Juno Probe

"We think what happens is struggle a secure size, and that"s as soon as it must stop and just sort of remain that size, uneven something division it apart," Amy Simon, a senior scientist in ~ NASA"s Goddard room Flight Center, told The Atlantic.

And the good Red Spot could actually be break apart. Due to the fact that scientists started routinely observing the storm in 1850, they have actually noticed the the storm sometimes shrinks and grows, however is currently on a shrinking trend. What as soon as was three times the dimension of planet now just stretches to twice our planet"s diameter.


Will the great Red point out disappear?

Since 1878, observers have actually kept a robust document of good Red point out observations. In a current study, a team of scientists analyzed old observations and combined them with brand-new ones indigenous various modern-day smashville247.netcraft, favor the Voyager missions and also the Hubble room Telescope.

"There is evidence in the archived monitorings that the good Red Spot has actually grown and shrunk over time," Reta Beebe, an emeritus professor at brand-new Mexico State university in las Cruces, stated in a statement from NASA.. "However, the storm is quite little now, and it"s to be a long time since it last grew."

Related: Jupiter Quiz: Test her Jovian Smarts

As the storm contracts, it also grows taller and also changes color, coming to be a an ext intense orange. Scientists aren"t sure yet why this is happening, yet it could be due to chemical reactions as new material is brought up native below.

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As of April 2017, the storm measure 10,159 mile (16,350 km) wide. That’s around a 3rd the dimension observers detailed in the 1800s, Orton told service Insider. He said the storm could continue to shrink because that the following 10 come 20 years, and also may also disappear.

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