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Neptune has never had a dedicated space mission, but the Hubble Space Telescope is still shedding new light on the workings of the mysterious planet.

Driving the news: A new photo from the space telescope shows a long-lived storm — the dark spot in the upper center — first spotted in 2018 still going strong.

  • Scientists expected the large, dark storm would disappear because they saw it moving toward the planet's equator, where these types of storms usually fade.
  • However, the new Hubble observations show the dark spot — which is wider than the Atlantic Ocean — moved back above the equator unexpectedly.

The intrigue: The Hubble also found a smaller, dark storm in the planet's atmosphere in January. Scientists suspect it might be a broken-off bit of the larger storm.

  • "It was also in January that the dark vortex stopped its motion and started moving northward again," Michael Wong of the University of California at Berkeley, said in a statement. "Maybe by shedding that fragment, that was enough to stop it from moving towards the equator."

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

The coming land rush in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Space is the new Wild West. Nations and space companies are racing to come to a consensus on what they can own, mine and take possession of in outer space before competitors stake ground first.

Why it matters: Private companies are building their businesses on sending spacecraft to the Moon, asteroids and other objects in the coming years to eventually extract resources that will be used or sold.

19 mins ago - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

19 mins ago - World

Scoop: Sudan wants to seal Israel normalization deal at White House

Burhan. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

Three months after Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel, it still hasn't signed an agreement to formally do so. Israeli officials tell me one reason has now emerged: Sudan wants to sign the deal at the White House.

Driving the news: Israel sent Sudan a draft agreement for establishing diplomatic relations several weeks ago, but the Sudanese didn’t reply, the officials say. On Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen raised that issue in Khartoum during the first-ever visit of an Israeli minister to Sudan.

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