Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has regularly tracked how the weather changes.
Hubble has observed Jupiter twice in the lastsix months. An image taken in November 2022 (left) shows powerful storms at low northern latitudes. A chain of alternating storms forms a wave pattern of nested cyclones and anticyclones, meshed together like the alternating gears of a clockwise and counterclockwise machine.
Jupiter in Hubble images in November 2022 and January 2023. Image: NASA, ESA, STScI, A. Simon (NASA-GSFC), M. H. Wong (UC Berkeley), J. DePasquale (STScI)
Above the surface of the planet in this image is visibleorange io. The resolution of the space telescope allows us to see the mottled surface of this satellite, the result of numerous active volcanoes. These volcanoes were first discovered when the Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Io in 1979.
The second image (on the right) is taken at the beginningJanuary 2023. On it you can see the Great Red Spot of Jupiter and the largest satellite of the solar system - Ganymede. The spot is a giant whirlwind. It is still large enough to completely swallow the Earth, but has been gradually decreasing over 150 years of observations.
Uranus in Hubble images in November 2014 and November 2022. Image: NASA, ESA, STScI, A. Simon (NASA-GSFC), M. H. Wong (UC Berkeley), J. DePasquale (STScI)
Hubble also explored Uranus.The image taken in November 2022 (right) shows the growing polar cap of high-altitude haze. It looks like smog over the city. This planet revolves around the Sun on its side. Its oddly inclined "horizontal" axis of rotation is only eight degrees off the plane of the planet's orbit. The orbital period is 84 years, and due to the unusual tilt, one hemisphere of the planet is hidden from the sun's rays for 42 years.
Hubble tracks the size and brightness of the northernpolar cap, and every year it becomes brighter. During the equinox of Uranus in 2007, neither pole was particularly bright. As the northern hemisphere summer solstice approaches in 2028, the cap may become even brighter and point directly at Earth, allowing a good view of the rings and the north pole.
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Cover image: NASA, ESA, STScI, A. Simon (NASA-GSFC), M. H. Wong (UC Berkeley), J. DePasquale (STScI)