Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 26, 1997

West Of The Great Red Spot
Credit: The Galileo Project, NASA

Explanation: The turbulent region West of Jupiter's Great Red Spot is highlighted in this recent picture constructed from data recorded by the Galileo spacecraft. The image is color coded to show cloud height and thickness; white clouds are high and thick, light blue clouds are high and thin, and reddish clouds are low. The edge of the Red Spot itself appears blue here (lower right) and spans about 6,600 miles along the curving limb of the planet (north is up). Westward winds, deflected north by the circulation within the Great Red Spot, collide with Eastward winds at higher latitudes and generate the roiling, turbulent structures. The largest eddies near the Northwestern edge of the Red Spot are bright, suggesting upward convection and high altitude cloud formation are taking place there.

Tomorrow's picture: Keck: The Largest Optical Telescopes

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.