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Published:June 9th, 2014 10:56 EST
What's Causing Jupiter's Great Red Spot to Mysteriously Shrink?

What's Causing Jupiter's Great Red Spot to Mysteriously Shrink?

By Ron G Anselm

"Sometimes well-known and popular sites become extinct and no longer give our greatest sense, our eye sight the pleasure of seeing the tranquility they once stowed upon our great human senses of sight and feeling." (Anselm, R.)

This is exactly what is happening to the Great Red spot on the planet Jupiter that has always been a well-known trademark of this large and mysterious planet. The Great Red spot on Jupiter shrinking is probably the equivalent of watching our wondrous Niagara Falls start to go dry; it doesn`t make sense or doesn`t make sense for now. 

The Great Red spot is made up of an anti-cyclonic storm which is larger or once was larger than Earth. Now, the red spot has shrunk to its smallest size scientist have ever recorded. The size of the red spot according to NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland is 10,250 miles across which is less than half the size in recorded historical measurements. The red spot has been tracked by scientist since the 1930s and the spot has been shrinking ever since.

Over the last twenty years scientists have really been all up in the tracking of the shrinkage details of the red spot. A median number to gauge on the red spot shrinking comes from the late 1800s when the spot was said to be approximately 25,500 miles across on Jupiter`s axis. In 1979 NASA Voyager one and Voyager two did a flyby of Jupiter and measured the red spot to be approximately 14,500 miles across on its axis. In 1995 a photograph taken by NASA`s Hubble space craft showed the spot to be about 13,020 miles across. One of the latest photos from 2009 showed the spot to be at that time 11,130 miles across. So, you can see a downsizing trend of the Great Red spot taking place. So far, it is estimated that the red spot is shrinking about 580 miles per year which has now turned the spot from its well-known oval shape to a more circular shape with the shrinkage.

What`s causing the Great Red Spot to shrink?

Amy Simon of NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center commented on this by stating, "In our new observations it is apparent very small eddies are feeding into the storm. We hypothesized these may be responsible for the accelerated change by altering the internal dynamics and energy of the Great Red Spot." (Simon, A.)

Simon and her team are planning to study these small eddies and their internal make-up to see if they are actually the culprit that is sapping the momentum out of the Great Red spot which is resulting in the shrinkage.

NASA`s is sending its Juno spacecraft in route now to study the shrinking spot phenomenon. The spacecraft is due to reach Jupiter somewhere around July of 2016. The study of this by Juno`s instruments will help reveal this mystery.

                                                                                    Reference  

Jupiter`s Great Red Spot is Shrinking, Science NewsScience@NASA Headline,

(http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/) Retrieved 2014.

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