Jupiter's Great Red Spot: Our Solar System's Most Famous Storm

Space.com | 10/18/2019 | JoAnna Wendel
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When you think of Jupiter, you might think of its massive size, or colorful bands of gases stretching across its face. Or you might think of the iconic storm, that huge, churning red hurricane twice the size of Earth that's remained a signature of our solar system's largest planet since for more than a century. This is Jupiter's Great Red Spot and it has captivated humans for generations.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot was first observed in 1831 by amateur astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, so we know the storm has existed for at least 150 years. But it could be even older than that. Some astronomers speculate that, back in 1665, when astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini (the namesake for NASA's Cassini mission) wrote about a "Permanent Storm," he was referring to the Great Red Spot.

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What is the Great Red Spot?

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Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm that's about twice as wide as Earth, circling the planet in its southern hemisphere. At the storm’s center, winds are relatively calm, but on its edges, wind speeds reach 270-425 mph (430-680 km/h). That's more than twice the speed of even the strongest hurricanes on Earth, which can generate wind speeds of up to 175 mph (281 km/h).

The storm is contained by an eastward-moving atmospheric band to its north and a westward-moving band to its south. Those swirling bands are also what formed the storm in the first place and have kept the storm spinning for more than a century, Glenn Orton, a lead Juno mission team member and planetary scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Business Insider.

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This enhanced-color image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft.

The Great Red Spot’s longevity is...
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