The Great Red Spot on Jupiter, which has been seen since the 17th century, is slowly disappearing. A new study indicates t his feature, which shows a great storm, will blow itself away in the next 10 to 20 years.
The Great Red Spot
The spot was first measured in the 19th century and at that point, it was four times the size of Earth. When the Voyager 2 space probe passed past Jupiter, the storm was just twice the size of Earth.
The latest measurements, however, show that the storm is just 30 percent bigger than Earth now. The new observation suggests that the Great Red Spot may just become a memory as it will die out in a few decades.
Scientists attached with NASA's $1 billion Juno mission took the latest measurements. The mission had captured fantastic photos of Jupiter's Great Red Spot last year, which showed that the storm is fading away.
Planetary scientist Glenn Orton said that the Great Red Spot has been evaporating for a long time. At present, it is only 1.3 times Earth's size with a longitudinal width of 13 degrees.
The July 2017 flyby enabled the Juno spacecraft to get a close approach to Jupiter and it will not get this close again for some time. The spacecraft will get near the planet again, but not as near as the last flyby, in April or late July 2018, or September 2019.
Do Jupiter's Storms Usually Last For So Long?
The storms on Jupiter do not last for long, at least not all of them. Scientists have compared the Great Red Spot, which is actually an anticyclone, to a spinning wheel that goes on spinning because it is trapped between two conveyor belts that are moving in opposite directions. The great storm is long-lived and stable because it is stuck between two jet streams that are flowing in opposite sides.
"Based on current theories, the Great Red Spot should have disappeared after several decades," Harvard University researcher Pedram Hassanzadeh said. "Instead, it has been there for hundreds of years."
In comparison to Jupiter's superstorm that has been observed for over 400 years now, Hurricane John, Earth's longest storm that was recorded in 1994, only had a duration of 31 days. Various factors including the moderation rotation rate, small size, and a dynamic atmosphere's presence that shapes the global jet stream, disrupt the dangerous weather systems before they go out of control.