Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hubble’s planetary portrait captures changes in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

14.10.2015

Scientists using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have produced new maps of Jupiter that show the continuing changes in its famous Great Red Spot. The images also reveal a rare wave structure in the planet’s atmosphere that has not been seen for decades. The new image is the first in a series of annual portraits of the Solar System’s outer planets, which will give us new glimpses of these remote worlds, and help scientists to study how they change over time.

In this new image of Jupiter a broad range of features has been captured, including winds, clouds and storms. The scientists behind the new images took pictures of Jupiter using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 over a ten-hour period and have produced two maps of the entire planet from the observations.


This new image from the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter, was made during the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) programme. The images from this programme make it possible to determine the speeds of Jupiter’s winds, to identify different phenomena in its atmosphere and to track changes in its most famous features.

The map shown was observed on 19 January 2015, from 2:00 UT to 12:30 UT.

Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M. Wong (UC Berkeley), and G. Orton (JPL-Caltech)

These maps make it possible to determine the speeds of Jupiter’s winds, to identify different phenomena in its atmosphere and to track changes in its most famous features.

The new images confirm that the huge storm, which has raged on Jupiter’s surface for at least three hundred years, continues to shrink, but that it may not go out without a fight. The storm, known as the Great Red Spot, is seen here swirling at the centre of the image of the planet.

It has been decreasing in size at a noticeably faster rate from year to year for some time. But now, the rate of shrinkage seems to be slowing again, even though the spot is still about 240 kilometres smaller than it was in 2014.

The spot’s size is not the only change that has been captured by Hubble. At the centre of the spot, which is less intense in colour than it once was, an unusual wispy filament can be seen spanning almost the entire width of the vortex. This filamentary streamer rotates and twists throughout the ten-hour span of the Great Red Spot image sequence, distorted by winds that are blowing at 540 kilometres per hour.

There is another feature of interest in this new view of our giant neighbour. Just north of the planet’s equator, researchers have found a rare wave structure, of a type that has been spotted on the planet only once before, decades ago by the Voyager 2 mission, which was launched in 1977.

In the Voyager 2 images the wave was barely visible and astronomers began to think its appearance was a fluke, as nothing like it has been seen since, until now.

The current wave was found in a region dotted with cyclones and anticyclones. Similar waves — called baroclinic waves — sometimes appear in the Earth’s atmosphere where cyclones are forming. The wave may originate in a clear layer beneath the clouds, only becoming visible when it propagates up into the cloud deck, according to the researchers.

The observations of Jupiter form part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) programme, which will allow Hubble to dedicate time each year to observing the outer planets. In addition to Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus have already been observed as part of the programme and maps of these planets will be placed in the public archive. Saturn will be added to the series later.

The collection of maps that will be built up over time will help scientists not only to understand the atmospheres of giant planets in the Solar System, but also the atmospheres of our own planet and of the planets that are being discovered around other stars.

Notes

The findings are described in an Astrophysical Journal paper First results from the Hubble OPAL program: Jupiter in 2015, available online.

Notes for editors

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Contacts

Mathias Jäger
ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Cell: +49 176 62397500
Email: mjaeger@partner.eso.org

Mathias Jäger | ESA
Further information:
http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1522/?lang

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech
17.01.2019 | Swansea University

nachricht Fraunhofer FHR radar analyzes deorbiting systems for more sustainability in space travel
17.01.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Brilliant glow of paint-on semiconductors comes from ornate quantum physics

17.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

Drones shown to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster and more accurate

17.01.2019 | Information Technology

Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

17.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>