Culture

Why Does Jupiter's Red Spot Continue to Fade and Shrink?

JUPITER

I have another science story for you, but I promise this one is much more enjoyable than the one about the peanut butter. Travel with me now past Mars, past the asteroid belt, and straight into the heart of Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot:

Scientists in Pasadena, Calif., came to the conclusion after re-creating the effects at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They were able to get a Spot-like red effect by directing ultraviolet light at ammonia and acetylene, gases that are both found on the planet.

Their new theory: “Most of the Great Red Spot is actually pretty bland in color, beneath the upper cloud layer of reddish material,” says a researcher.

“Under the reddish ‘sunburn’ the clouds are probably whitish or grayish.” So why is it confined to just one spot? “The Great Red Spot … reaches much higher altitudes than clouds elsewhere on Jupiter,” the expert notes.

The Spot is actually a storm with winds of up to hundreds of miles per hour, the Daily Mail reports. Wind in the area brings ammonia particles closer to the sun, and a vortex keeps them there, the researchers say.

We don’t know how many centuries — millennia? — old that storm is, but it has been fading in recent years. While an exact cause has yet to be determined, it probably has to do with evil carbon emissions here on Earth.

On an unrelated note, the asteroid belt needs a better name. I like “Solar Rhinestones.”

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit