Good news, space fans! The Hubble Space Telescope has captured new images of Jupiter, providing the world with never-before-seen details of a previously unidentified filament in the “Great Red Spot”–the awe-inspiring hurricane which triples the size of Earth, and has been wreaking havoc on the giant planet for centuries while remaining a constant source of interest to NASA scientists.
The images, which were released on the website for the Goddard Spaceflight Center, have also been used by NASA scientists to create a 4K video of Jupiter’s rotation. This video relates to NASA’S now ongoing initiative to release UHD footage via YouTube and the brand-new dedicated 4K television channel.
So, what are these new findings captured by The Hubble? To start, the two most recent image maps of Jupiter reveal a “rare wave” close to the equator along with the previously mentioned “filament-like feature” discovered inside the Great Red Spot. Further evidence shows that there may be a calm within the storm–that is, the Great Red Spot itself is reportedly shrinking in size. Its longest axis is now 150 miles shorter than it was in 2014.
The Hubble has been going strong for a solid twenty-five years, but a newer and far more advanced piece of technology, the James Webb Space Telescope, looms in the horizon with a potential launch date set for 2018. The Hubble is not about to retire though just yet. Instead of its efforts being focused on distant objects and far off galaxies as it did so in the past, NASA scientists hope to use it in order to learn more about planets a little bit closer to home. This new program aims to annually study the planets in our solar system and the changes to them that may occur over time.
Following Jupiter, NASA plans to aim The Hubble at Uranus. After that, Neptune and Saturn. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but today we have a stunning new view of Jupiter.