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Dear Jupiter: Use More Sunscreen

20 Nov 2014, 23:20 UTC
Dear Jupiter: Use More Sunscreen
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It’s the signature accessory of the largest planet in our solar system: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, an enormous anticyclone over twice the width of our entire planet. Visible in even modest backyard telescopes, the GRS has been churning away for at least several hundred years. But, based on recent analysis of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft […]

Image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot from Voyager 1, 1979 data. Edited by Björn Jónsson.
It’s the signature accessory of the largest planet in our solar system: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, an enormous anticyclone over twice the width of our entire planet. Visible in even modest backyard telescopes, the GRS has been churning away for at least several hundred years. But, based on recent analysis of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft during its pass by Jupiter in December 2000, the Great Red Spot’s rusty coloration may actually only be skin-deep – a “sunburn” created by interaction between Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and solar radiation.

Edited from a JPL news release on the Cassini mission site:
In the lab, JPL researchers Kevin Baines, Bob Carlson, and Tom Momary blasted ammonia and acetylene gases — chemicals known to exist on Jupiter — with ultraviolet ...

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