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Release No.: STScI-PRC08-27
Three Red Spots Mix it Up on Jupiter
NASA, ESA, A. Simon-Miller (Goddard Space Flight Center), N.
Chanover (New Mexico State University) and G. Orton (Jet Propulsion
This sequence of Hubble Space Telescope images offers an unprecedented
view of a planetary game of Pac-Man among three red spots clustered
together in Jupiter's atmosphere.
The time series shows the passage of the "Red Spot Jr." in a band of
clouds below (south) of the Great Red Spot (GRS). "Red Spot Jr." first
appeared on Jupiter in early
2006 when a previously white storm turned red. This is the second time,
since turning red, it has skirted past its big brother apparently
But this is not the fate of "baby red spot," which is in the same
latitudinal band as the GRS. This new red spot first appeared earlier
this year. The baby red spot gets ever closer to the GRS in this picture
sequence until it is caught up in the anticyclonic spin of the GRS. In
the final image the baby spot is deformed and pale in color and has been
spun to the right (east) of the GRS. (Amateur astronomers' observations
confirm that this is the baby spot that migrated around the GRS.) The
prediction is that the baby spot will now get pulled back into the GRS
"Cuisinart" and disappear for good. This is one possible mechanism that
has powered and sustained the GRS for at least 150 years.
These three natural-color Jupiter images were made from data acquired on
May 15, June 28, and July 8, 2008 by the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2
(WFPC2). Each one covers 58 degrees of Jovian "latitude" and 70 degrees
of "longitude" (centered on 5 degrees South latitude and 110, 121 and 121 degrees West
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation
between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) and is managed by
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Md. The Space
Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations.
The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities
for Research in Astronomy, Inc., Washington, DC.
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For more information on this story, contact:
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.