Over a 10 hour period, the Hubble Space Telescope gazed at the solar system’s largest planet to produce one of the most spectacular maps of Jupiter’s complex and dynamic atmosphere. Immediately astronomers were able to measure the size of the planet’s shrinking Great Red Spot and notice some mysterious structures along the way.
As the spot has shrunk, it’s color has also become more anemic, losing some of its redness. Also, as these new Hubble observations show, a strange wispy structure has formed inside the storm, becoming warped by the high-speed winds that have been clocked at a speed of 540 kilometers (335 miles) per hour. Astronomers, so far, have little explanation as to what this feature is or what caused it.
Another oddity has been spied just north of the planet’s equator — a wave-like structure has formed, something that hasn’t been seen since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1979. During that flyby, these waves were assumed to be a transient event and the fact the spacecraft imaged them was a fluke. But they’ve now returned, no doubt sparking some huge interest as to their origins.