New Hubble portrait captures the intricate beauty of Jupiter's cloud surface
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a breathtakingly detailed view of the largest planet in our solar system – the gas giant Jupiter. The new portrait, which was captured on June 27, 2019, highlights the complex nature of Jupiter's cloud surface, and showcases the gas giant's most famous feature – the Great Red Spot.
Hubble's latest shot of Jupiter was taken as part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, which has the overreaching goal of deepening humanity's understanding of the processes that shape the atmospheres of the gas giants populating our solar system – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
The most prominent feature displayed in the new portrait is the Great Red Spot (GRS) – an enormous storm that has been churning across the surface of the Jovian planet for at least the past 150 years. The storm moves in the opposite direction to the two bands of cloud it is in direct contact with.
The GRSis so massive that our Blue Marble could be placed in the center of its swirling expanse, and it wouldn't even touch the sides. Impressive as this is, it was once much larger, and is thought to have been shrinking for many decades.
A long thin blemish can be seen to the south of the GRS, created by a cyclone travelling in the opposite direction to the counter-clockwise spin of Jupiter's premier storm.
Parallel bands of cloud contrast with one another as they travel in opposite directions across Jupiter's tumultuous "surface." Lighter-colored bands represent high-altitude ammonia ice clouds, while darker bands travel a shallower path relative to the gas giant's core.
Violently-spinning brown and white storms can be seen peppering the swirling cloud bands, each a leviathan atmospheric disturbance in their own right, yet pathetically small in comparison to the Great Red Spot.
NASA's Juno spacecraft is currently in orbit around Jupiter, braving the radiation-saturated space near the gas giant to collect new data on the leviathan planet in order to peel away some of the many mysteries surrounding the alien world. Hubble is set to continue collecting data on Jupiter in conjunction with other telescopes and the Juno spacecraft, in an attempt to understand why the gas giant's largest storm is disappearing.
The video below shows a three-dimensional model of Jupiter generated from the new Hubble images.
Source: Hubble Space Telescope