Recent images from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently revealed that the Great Red Spot on the planet Jupiter has shrunken to its smallest size in over 100 years.
According to NASA press release, the latest photo the most powerful storm in the solar system is the smallest record ever since the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope started in 1800s. The full disc image of the gigantic red spot was captured using the Hubble wide field camera (WFC) on April.
Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA stated "Recent Hubble Space Telescope observations confirm that the spot is now just under 16 500 kilometers across, the smallest diameter we've ever measured."
NASA scientists are not sure about the reason behind the shrinking phenomenon behind the Great Red Spot. "In our new observations it is apparent that very small eddies are feeding into the storm. We hypothesized that these may be responsible for the accelerated change by altering the internal dynamics of the Great Red Spot," said Amy Simon.
Jupiter's Great Red Spot was an enormous burning anticyclonic storm which was originally three times bigger than the Earth. It rotates in an anti-clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere of the ringed planet. The Jovian storm has a noticeably deep red color surrounded with swirling layers of orange, pale yellow, and white. The wind speed inside the storm could reach several hundred kilometers per hour and could easily gobble up the Earth.
With the downsizing of Jupiter's most famous mark, the shape of the turbulent spot has already changed from oval to circle. Records from the late 1800s gathered by the Hubble team marked the spot at about 41,000 kilometres which is equivalent to three Earths places side by side each other. The spot was measured again in 1979 and 1980 by the NASA Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 respectively and the readings that time was at 23,335 kilometres in diameter.
NASA further revealed that the shrinking phenomenon seems to be accelerating as evidenced by the diminishing size of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The Jovian storm's diameter downsized by less than 1,000 kilometres every year. This revelation was based on amateur observations that started in 2012.
Watch the imagery of the diminishing sizes of Jupiter's Great Red Spot from 1995, 2009, and 2014 from YouTube.