Jupiter’s most famous storm is no doubt the Great Red Spot, a huge anticyclone more than twice the size of Earth that has been raging for almost 400 years.
But in a new image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft (above and below), we’ve got a great view of a smaller companion, known as the Little Red Spot, or NN-LRS-1. It’s the “third largest anticyclonic reddish oval on the planet,” according to NASA, and has been watched by observers on Earth for 23 years. Anticyclones like this rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Juno snapped this image with its JunoCam on December 11, 2016, from an altitude of 16,600 kilometers (10,300 miles) above Jupiter’s clouds. The storm doesn’t have much color, so it almost blends into the surroundings. The image was processed by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers.
The wind speeds in the Little Red Spot are almost twice as fast as the strongest hurricanes on Earth, measuring about 618 kilometers per hour (384 miles per hour). The storm has actually been growing since 1998, when three smaller white storms merged together to form it. The storm turned red in 2005, for reasons unknown.
If features like this are of interest to you, then we’d highly recommend getting involved with the mission on the JunoCam website. There, you can vote on the points of interest Juno looks at next as it makes its sweeping orbits around Jupiter, and look at all the raw unprocessed images too. Check it out, why don’t you.
Here's the full image in all its glory. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstaedt/John Rogers