Jupiter's Great Red Spot, shown in this progression, is shrinking faster than ever

In any other circumstance, a huge, red, festering blemish would be a bad thing but not for the planet Jupiter. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been a defining characteristic of the planet since man began looking at the stars through bamboo shoots. But that may be about to change. NASA says that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking in size faster than ever and could disappear altogether within 20 years.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is an Earth-sized storm raging on the gas giant’s surface. Scientists have known about the red spot since at least 1831 (and possibly as early as 1665). The storm rotates differently than the planet’s atmosphere and is believed to have traveled around the planet several times during its recorded history.

For several years, NASA had noticed that the Great Red Spot was shrinking but now something in Jupiter’s atmosphere has changed and the spot is growing smaller at a rate much faster than ever before. Scientists calculate that the storm is shrinking by almost two miles per day. At this rate, the Great Red Spot could disappear altogether within as little as 17 years.

[Editor note to Reeko: So they don’t run out and try it, please explain to the kids that looking through a bamboo shoot is dangerous and a good way to poke out an eye.  Besides, with regards to using a bamboo shoot as a primitive telescope – well, it doesn’t work anyway.].

Sources: CBS News
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