Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Hubble Showcases New Portrait of Jupiter

Hubble Showcases New Portrait of Jupiter Jupiter's annual portrait is a beaut
Sandy Nunez | 10 August, 2019, 18:29

These hues and their changes can provide important details on Jupiter's evolving atmosphere. Two cloud bands, which are located above and below the Great Red Spot, are moving in opposite directions.

Aside from the Great Red Spot, streaks of clouds with different colors can also be clearly seen in Hubble's photo. The observations of Jupiter form part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) programme. Astronomers are still unsure of why cloud bands change colors or why storms become smaller, however, a new Hubble Space Telescope portrait gives a close-up look at Jupiter's unpredictable atmosphere and might provide some insights on the planet's dynamic activity. The huge structure, with a diameter slightly larger than Earth's, is a high-pressure wind system called an anticyclone that has been slowly downsizing since the 1800s.

"The goal is to fill in gaps in the archive of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune images because, some years, there were no successful proposals to use Hubble to observe individual planets", Wong said.

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Measuring in at 10,000 miles (16,000 km) in width, the Great Red Spot is 1.3 times as wide as Earth. The red band above and to the right (northeast) of the Great Red Spot contains clouds moving westward and around the north of the giant tempest. For colored stripes in different directions is a effect of different pressure. The Earth-orbiting Hubble turns its eyes to all the outer solar system planets at least once a year to check on their weather.

The storm itself is structured like a wedding cake, with an upper layer extending more than 3 miles higher than surrounding clouds, according to NASA. The spot is actually a high-pressure wind system called an anticyclone and since the 1800's scientists have been watching it slowly downsize for an unknown reason. Researchers have observed cyclones with a wide variety of different appearances across the planet.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Jupiter when the planet was 400 million miles from Earth, when Jupiter was near "opposition" or nearly directly opposite the Sun in the sky. All strips divided by the winds which can reach up to 644 kilometers per hour.