The Great Red Spot (GRS) is the solar system’s largest known storm, an Earth-sized anticyclone boasting wind speeds approaching 400 kilometres per hour that has raged in the atmosphere of Jupiter for at least two centuries. But recent observations from Earth and space suggest that this iconic Jovian feature is undergoing enormous changes that could herald its demise. With Jupiter currently at its closest to Earth for 2019, there’s no better time to look for these dramatic changes yourself.
Recent pictures captured by two renowned amateur astroimagers, Anthony Wesley in Australia and Christopher Go in the Philippines, reveal that the Great Red Spot now sports a curved dark bridge between Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt and the Great Red Spot. But these events have not just been seen from Earth. NASA’s Juno spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter hopes to take a closer look at the GRS when it passes over the feature in late July 2019, but mission scientists have witnessed structures described as flakes or blades detaching from the GRS with increasing frequency since 2017.
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