This black and white picture of Jupiter, taken in green light at 1:14 a.m. on the 11th March, 1991 by the Planetary Camera on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows a wealth of fine detail in the clouds that cover the planet. The Great Red Spot is seen at the lower right, also on the right near the equator the satellite Europa is disappearing behind the limb of the planet. The dark 'j' shaped clouds along the equator are the result of a pattern of intense jet streams in the Jovian atmosphere. This picture is as sharp as the Voyager pictures taken five days before the closest approach in 1979.
Detailed comparison with the Voyager pictures shows that a totally different cloud structure has formed over the past twelve years. An HST investigator group is planning to collect Jupiter images using the Planetary Camera on a regular basis over the next several years to record the detailed evolution of Jovian weather. These data will be taken in several colors to study the weather at different altitudes in the atmosphere.
This will allow meteorologists to apply the complex computer programs used to make weather predictions for the very different atmospheric conditions found on Jupiter. Comparison of the computer predictions with the new HST results can be used to refine the computer atmospheric models in a way which will help make improved forecasts of the weather on Earth.
The HST Wide Field Planetary Camera was designed and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.