- Science! May 16
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter might one day be the Average Red Spot; NASA says it's shrinking at a rate of 580 miles a year, the distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C.
For at least 400 years, NPR says, the anticyclonic vortex has been churning in the atmosphere of the planet, a gigantic storm that is big enough to engulf three Earths. As it gets smaller, the shape begins to shift as well, and by 2040 it could become circular. In 1979, the Great Red Spot was 14,500 miles across, in 1995 it was 13,020 miles across, and by 2009 it was down to 11,130 miles across. Now, it's 10,250 miles along the east-west axis.
NASA hypothesizes that the Great Red Spot is shrinking because "very small eddies are feeding into the storm." Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center adds that the eddies are possibly "altering the internal dynamics and energy of the Great Red Spot." Simon and the rest of her team will study the eddies and the storm's internal dynamics to get to the bottom of "this yet unexplained shrinkage."- - Catherine Garcia
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- 10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2014
- How to rescue the American family and fix the broken school system in one fell swoop
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why insects are the future of food
- The slippery slope of Twitter's attempts to stop harassment against women
Subscribe to the Week