One of the solar system’s greatest wonders might be going away soon.
Jupiter’s infamous Great Red Spot has shrunk to its smallest size ever, and some experts believe the massive anticyclone storm might disappear in a lifetime.
The gigantic storm has been raging for at least 400 years. When it was first observed, back in the 19th century, it’s diameter measured more than 35,000 miles across, large enough to fit three-four Earths inside. Now, it has decreased to a pathetic 10,159 miles, according to Space.com.
I’m mean, still larger the Earth, but pathetic to Jupiter’s standards.
Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers were able to measure the change in diameter of the Great Red Spot for the past 20 years. What they found was the Jupiter’s beauty mark has been shrinking by about 1,000km per year.
“The GRS will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle),” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Glen Orton told Business Insider in an email. “Maybe sometime after that the GRM”—the Great Red Memory.
That’s what we call: astronomer humor.
Why is the storm vanishing? Well, all good things must come to an end. The Great Red Spot has lasted for such centuries because it is caught between two powerful jet streams, which continually feeds the vortex of the momentous storm.
Recently, NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew over the Great Red Spot and provided a closeup of the gigantic storm. It will make another round in April 2018, then again July and September of 2019.