25
Nov 10

Jupiter's belt is coming back

Source: NASA/JPL

New NASA images support findings that one of Jupiter's stripes that "disappeared" last spring is now showing signs of a comeback. These new observations will help scientists better understand the interaction between Jupiter's winds and cloud chemistry.


This is a composite of three color images taken on Nov. 18, 2010, by the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii.
The composite image shows a belt that had previously vanished in Jupiter's atmosphere is now reappearing.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/UH/NIRI/Gemini/UC Berkeley

Earlier this year, amateur astronomers noticed that a longstanding dark-brown stripe, known as the South Equatorial Belt, just south of Jupiter's equator, had turned white. In early November, amateur astronomer Christopher Go of Cebu City, Philippines, saw an unusually bright spot in the white area that was once the dark stripe. This phenomenon piqued the interest of scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and elsewhere.

After follow-up observations in Hawaii with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, the W.M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory telescope, scientists now believe the vanished dark stripe is making a comeback. (read more)

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