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Great Red Spot Consumes Baby Spot

Enlarge Image credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon-Miller (Goddard Space Flight Center), N. Chanover (New Mexico State University), and G. Orton (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) MORE IMAGES

Pity the poor atmospheric disturbance that crosses paths with Jupiter's Great Red Spot, a storm as large as two to three Earths that has raged for at least several hundred years. These images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope over a period of three months show the storm gobbling up "baby red spot" [arrow; right panel], a smaller storm that formed earlier this year. Gliding safely past this smashup was Red Spot, Jr. [red ring], which turned from white to red in January 2006 and has now snuck by its larger counterpart twice without being chomped. The different colored bands and storms in Jupiter's 30-mile- (50-kilometer-) thick atmosphere reflect varying chemical compositions and temperatures of gases in those regions. Researchers are still unsure what mechanism powers the Great Red Spot. They hope that studying the demise of baby red spot may shed some light on the forces at work

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