Jupiter's Great Red Spot continues to be a mystery

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Continues To Be A Mystery


Earth certainly has its share of extreme weather events, but conditions on Jupiter are way worse.

Among its most volatile features is the Great Red Spot, a storm twice the size of our planet that is constantly producing up to 400 mile per hour winds.

Despite the spot's color and turbulent nature, very little is known about it.NASA scientists continuously try to make sense of how it operates.

Photos of the Great Red Spot:

7 PHOTOS
Jupiter Red Spot
See Gallery
Jupiter's Great Red Spot continues to be a mystery
This dramatic view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and its surroundings was obtained by Voyager 1 on Feb. 25, 1979. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot — a swirling storm feature larger than Earth — is shrinking. This downsizing, which is changing the shape of the spot from an oval into a circle, has been known about since the 1930s, but now these striking new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images capture the spot at a smaller size than ever before.
This dramatic view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and its surroundings was obtained by Voyager 1 on Feb. 25, 1979. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 13: This photograph taken by Voyager 1 shows a close up of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, a storm that has been raging in the gas giant�s atmosphere for at least three hundred years. The white spot shows another cloud system that is believed to have formed around 1940. Jupiter�s atmosphere is made up of 90 % hydrogen and almost 10 % helium, together with traces of other gases, including methane and ammonia. Immensely strong winds occur, and the storm clouds exhibit colours which are thought to be due to chemical reactions in the atmosphere. The two Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977 to explore the planets in the outer solar system. Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter at a distance of 278,000 kilometres in March 1979 before flying on to Saturn. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Jupiter fr. equator to southern polar latitudes close to Great Red Spot, as depicted by Voyager spacecraft. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/NASA/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
circa 1973: An artist's impression of a Pioneer probe passing the Great Red Spot on Jupiter during its mission to photograph the planet's surface and send back data. (Photo by NASA/Space Frontiers/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


Among the most nagging unanswered questions is why it is red.

Researchers have thus far narrowed the likely source of the hue down to a few candidates and are currently running experiments focusing on ammonium hydrosulfide.

Studies are currently underway to determine which combinations of the chemical and certain conditions yield a brick-hued mass.

An environmental factor of particular interest to scientists is cosmic rays, as the radiation they spread causes changes to the composition of ammonium hydrosulfide here on Earth.

Cracking the mystery of the Great Red Spot could greatly aid unlocking others.

In addition to fostering a greater understanding of weather patterns on our own planet, the findings could help predict what conditions are like on others.

Read Full Story