Jupiter’s Red Spot is Shrinking | What Could Happen If Jupiter’s Red Spot Disappear?

The weather on earth can be unpredictable but it pales in comparison to the cataclysms unfolding on other planets in our solar system. Venus, for example, is uniquely hellish, The hottest planet in our solar system is surrounded by clouds made up of sulfur dioxide that hold droplets of sulfuric acid. Meanwhile, Mars has experienced dust storms that engulf the entire planet and can last months. Anyway, at far out in depths of the solar system, Neptune is constantly whipped by supersonic winds reaching over 1200 miles per hour. 

Out of all the Planets Jupiter is home to one of the most mysterious weather phenomena, A massive anticyclone, called the Great Red Spot. Scientists are closely watching this centuries-old storm because it could soon disappear. The GRS ( Great Red Spot) is scientifically referred to as an anticyclone due to its counter clock-wise rotation. Anticyclone looks and acts similar to tropical cyclones we experienced on our plant that bring triple-digit wind speed and leave large-scale destructions. 

Earth cyclones develop a grow over oceans but break up shortly after making landfall because of an increase in the fraction from the land.  The largest cyclone on earth lasted for  31 days while anticyclones can last for hundreds of years 

Since the Jovian Planet ( Jupiter) is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium gas it’s believed that there isn’t any land to help dissipate winds. So anticyclones continue to grow and in some cases merge into an even bigger system. The GRS ( Great Red Spot ) has consumed its fair share of smaller storms earning its title as the largest anticyclone in our solar system. 

The GRS is about 10,000 miles wide and is estimated to penetrate about 200  miles into Jupiter’s atmosphere. But new research suggests that it can go even deeper basically it’s big enough to swallow the Earth whole. The anticyclone is wedged between two air currents or jet streams that move in opposite directions, These conveyor belts keep the massive oval spinning which fuels the momentum of the vortex.

But the Great Red Spot may not last forever and some scientists believe it might even vanish in the next two decades. 

  • When it was observed in In the late 1800s. the GRS was estimated to be over 25,000 miles across.
  • In the late 1970s, NASA’s voyagers 1 and 2 flybys measured it at 14,500 miles across.
  • In the 1990s, Hubble Space Telescope showed the GRS at about 13,000 miles across.
  • In the late 2000s, A photo by Hubble Space Telescope measured it at around 11,000. 
  • Most Recently in 2017 NASA’s Juno probe observed the GRS at it’s the smallest size ever recorded 

Over the next couple of decades, it’s believed the Great Red Spot will shrink and longitude and become more circular. It could stay that way for many years but If GRS becomes too elongated the jet streams could rip the anticyclone apart.  

Now the disappearance of the iconic red spot is only theoretical but if it does vanish, it could give us a better understanding of  Jupiter’s atmosphere and may even give us a view into the core of the Gas Giant. 

On top of that studying that great red spot and other bizarre weather phenomena throughout the solar system could help us gain a deeper understanding of fluctuating weather patterns on the earth.    

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