Jupiter's Great Red Spot is getting smaller

Published On: May 16 2014 05:12:48 PM EDT
Updated On: May 17 2014 04:34:30 AM EDT
DETROIT -

Jupiter and Saturn are probably the most striking of the other planets in our solar system, and one of Jupiter’s most iconic features is undergoing some changes.

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Jupiter, you’ve probably seen the Great Red Spot, which is a massive storm with wind near its edges gusting to between 250 and 300 miles per hour! How big is the Great Red Spot? Big enough to fit three Earths inside of it!

The spot has been around for as long as humans have had telescopes to see it with, so it may be 300 to 400 years old…or even older. Take a look at these photos taken in 1995, 2009 and 2014. As you can see, the Great Red Spot is slowly shrinking by 600 to 700 miles a year.

Scientists aren’t sure why the spot is getting smaller, but Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center says that "In our new observations, it is apparent that very small eddies are feeding into the storm. We hypothesized that these may be responsible for the accelerated change by altering the internal dynamics of the Great Red Spot."

Additional research is planned to find out exactly what is going on with the spot.

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