Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is mysteriously shrinking and turning orange, Nasa reveals
It’s a storm big enough to swallow Earth whole and still have seconds and dessert.
Now Nasa has spotted Jupiter’s Great Red Spot behaving extremely strangely.
The Spot is a huge swirling storm that’s been whirling for centuries.
At its biggest, it was large enough to swallow Earth three times over.
But it appears to be getting taller as it shrinks and is even changing colour, meaning we might have to call it the Small Orange Spot in future.
‘Storms are dynamic, and that’s what we see with the Great Red Spot. It’s constantly changing in size and shape, and its winds shift, as well,’ said Amy Simon, an expert in planetary atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and author of a report into the changing face of the Great Red Spot.
Simon’s research indicates the Spot has been decreasing in length since 1878 and is now only big enough to swallow on Earth.
It has also started to change colour and started ‘becoming intensely orange’ in 2014. Although Nasa cannot explain this process, it’s believed that chemical which colour the storm are being carried high into the atmosphere as it shape changes, where they are exposed to more UV radiation and change colour.
‘There is evidence in the archived observations that the Great Red Spot has grown and shrunk over time,’ added co-author Reta Beebe, an emeritus professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
‘However, the storm is quite small now, and it’s been a long time since it last grew.’