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The Sciences

Jupiter's Shrinking Spot

The Great Red Spot's size is decreasing faster than previously thought.

Jupiter_Spot.jpg
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was considerably larger when the Voyager probes zoomed by in 1979, shown here, than when Hubble saw it in 2014. | 1979 Jupiter, NASA/JPL/Bjorn Bjorn Jonsson

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Astronomers have known for decades that Jupiter’s trademark weather pattern — the stormy Great Red Spot — is shrinking. But in May, after taking a closer look with the Hubble Space Telescope, they learned that lately the spot has been shrinking at a faster rate.

In 1979, when Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flew by, the Great Red Spot was 14,500 miles wide. Now it’s just 10,250 miles wide and shrinking by 580 miles per year.

The cause of the big shrink remains a mystery.

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