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This is how Jupiter’s mysterious “Clyde’s Spot” has changed in one year

This is how Jupiter's mysterious "Clyde's Spot" has Changed in One Year
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image Processing by Kevin M. Gill © CC BY.

Juno captured the transformation of the Clyde’s spot, a detail of Jupiter’s atmosphere discovered by an amateur astronomer in 2020.

Storms bigger than Earth that last on for centuries, lightning accompanied by hail with ammonia that blazes from space and clouds running through the gas giant at more than 360 kilometers per hour: behind the spectacular photographs of Jupiter’s atmosphere taken by NASA’s Juno probe since 2016, hides a turbulent and changing world.

The most recent proof has been captured by Juno during its most recent flyby (the 33rd since the start of the mission) near the Jovian clouds. On this occasion, the space probe paid special attention to the area of ​​the gas giant known as the Clyde spot, a “column of clouds formed by material emanating from the upper layers of the Jovian atmosphere, just southeast of the Great Red Spot of Jupiter”.

Clyde’s spot is named after the amateur astronomer Clyde Foster, the author of its discovery on May 31, 2020 from the city of Centurion in South Africa. Although Jupiter is one of the planets known since ancient times, Galileo was the first person to observe the planet in detail in January 1610, thanks to his invention of telescope.

This is what the south pole of Jupiter looks like captured by the Juno space probe 52 thousand kilometers away. In it, cyclones of more than a thousand kilometers in diameter are formed.
This is what the south pole of Jupiter looks like captured by the Juno space probe 52 thousand kilometers away. In it, cyclones of more than a thousand kilometers in diameter are formed.

Half a century later, Robert Hooke was the first person to notice the presence of a spotty cloudy atmosphere on Jupiter in 1664; However, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini is considered to have pioneered the recording of the Great Red Spot (GRS), the most massive and long-lasting storm known in the Solar System.

Despite centuries of human observation of the largest planet in our cosmic neighborhood, Clyde Foster was the first person to record the spot that now is named after him, located southeast of the Great Red Spot.

On June 2, 2020, just two days after its discovery, Juno flew closely over the Clyde’s spot, providing observations that helped NASA learn more about its composition.

In its last observation made on April 15, 2021, Juno confirmed that the Clyde’s spot has moved away from the GRS and has become a “complex structure” that NASA calls a “folded filamentous region”, plus that now it has ” twice the latitude and three times the longitude of the original location, and has the potential to persist for an extended period of time ”.

Comparison between the two observations of the Clyde’s spot. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS.
Image processing by Kevin M. Gill © CC BY.

Although Jupiter doesn’t have a surface like the rocky planets of the Solar System, it is likely that beneath its dense atmosphere formed mostly of hydrogen and helium there’s a solid core, probably the size of our planet.

Knowing more about its interior will reveal new clues about the origin of our Solar System, hence, in early 2021, NASA decided to extend Juno’s mission until September 2025.

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