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The Great Red Spot seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI

The winds of one of the most recognizable storms in the solar system — Jupiter's Great Red Spot — are speeding up.

Why it matters: This weather report for another world is possible because the Hubble Space Telescope has been keeping a close eye on the storm for more than 10 years.

What's happening: Scientists using the Hubble have found the winds just inside the bounds of the spot have "increased by up to 8 percent from 2009 to 2020," according to NASA.

  • Wind speeds in the inner area of the storm have slowed down in that time period.
  • The researchers behind the new study aren't sure what's causing that change in wind speed seen over time, but it may have something to do with changes below the planet's cloud tops out of view of the Hubble.
  • "We're talking about such a small change that if you didn’t have 11 years of Hubble data, we wouldn't know it happened," NASA's Amy Simon, who contributed to the research, said in a statement. "With Hubble, we have the precision we need to spot a trend."

The big picture: The Great Red Spot has been seen by people on Earth for 150 years, and this isn't the first time scientists have spotted changes in the huge storm.

  • Over the years, researchers have also found the storm is shrinking and changing its shape from oval to circular.
  • According to NASA, the storm is now 10,000 miles across and still able to fit Earth within it.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Oct 5, 2021 - Science

What's lost when spaceflight goes private

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: SpaceX via Flickr

The new era of private spaceflight — heralded by the all-civilian Inspiration4 crew — is at risk of lacking the transparency of missions led by NASA and other space agencies.

Why it matters: Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are trying to woo more customers in the coming years to help bring about their vision for humanity in space. Bringing in new customers hinges on those people having a clear picture of the risks of space travel.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.