A new study claims that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, which was once big enough to swallow four Earths, is getting taller as it shrinks. Researchers are of the view that the Great Red Spot might completely die away in 10 years from now.
According to the study, the storm has increased in area at least once along the way, and it’s growing taller as it gets smaller.
Amy Simon, the lead author of the study, is an expert in planetary atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. According to Amy, the Great Red Spot is constantly changing shape and size and its winds are shifting as well.
The researchers put together and analyzed all the data to get a clearer picture of the GRS’s shape, size, color, and drift rate. They also took the internal wind speeds of the storm into consideration. The study found that the Great Red Spot recently began to drift westward at a faster rate than before.
The storm, however, stays at the same latitude due to the massive jet streams that circle the entire planet keep it spinning in place. It gradually circles the planet in the opposite direction of Jupiter’s eastward rotation. Researchers believe that as the storm is contracting, the internal winds will get stronger, same as an ice skater who starts to spin faster once he pulls in his arms. In case of GRS, it has begun to stretch up instead of spinning faster.
Furthermore, the researchers have observed that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is getting deeper in color, getting intensely orange since 2014. The reason behind the same currently remains unknown.
The iconic storm is now 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide), only big enough to accommodate just over one Earth at this point. The study finding has been published in the Astronomical Journal.
Notably, the Great Red Spot is being monitored since 1830. The latest study is based on data that has been on record since 1878 as well as from the data obtained from Hubble’s Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL), a project that makes annual observations of Jupiter.