Hubble Views Ancient Storm in the Atmosphere of Jupiter
When 17th-century astronomers first turned their telescopes to Jupiter, they noted a conspicuous reddish spot on the giant planet. This Great Red Spot is still present in Jupiter's atmosphere, more than 300 years later. It is now known that it is a vast storm, spinning like a cyclone. Unlike a low-pressure hurricane in the Caribbean Sea, however, the Red Spot rotates in a counterclockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere, showing that it is a high-pressure system. Winds inside this Jovian storm reach speeds of about 270 mph.
The Red Spot is the largest known storm in the solar system. With a diameter of 15,400 miles, it is almost twice the size of the entire Earth and one-sixth the diameter of Jupiter itself. However, the Red Spot does change its shape, size, and color, sometimes dramatically. Such changes are demonstrated in these Hubble telescope pictures.