The Not So Great Red Spot
If you were to try to name all of the planets, perhaps one of the first that comes to mind is Jupiter—which also happens to be the largest planet in our solar system. One of Jupiter’s most recognizable features is its Great Red Spot, a continuous anticlockwise circulation that is twice the size of Earth and has been observed to be circulating for hundreds of years. With wind speeds of up to 340 mph, one may question the source of stability for the super storm. It is presumed that Jupiter’s internal heat source provides energy to keep the Great Red Spot (GRS), as well as all its weather going.
In recent years, the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) has observed that the GRS is indeed shrinking and changing in shape from an oval to a circle. It should also be noted that the core of the GRS is turning more orange in color and overall has become less distinct. The Hubble has observed changes in Jupiter’s atmosphere, such as a possible new cyclone just north of its equator.
It is still not clear whether or not Jupiter is undergoing its own climate change and in turn, the GRS is shrinking or if the Great Red Spot is just going through a cycle. Only time, further observations, and new evidence will tell. We’ll all just have to wait and see if the Great Red Spot will continue to live up to its name.