This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jupiter Loses a Stripe

On May 9, Australian astronomer Anthony Wesley obtained the photo on the left revealing that the Southern Equatorial Belt (SEB) of Jupiter has faded from view. This is not the first time that the SEB has faded. It fades from view every 3-15 years. Nor was the observation a sudden surprise. In 2009 astronomers had been following the developments, but Jupiter went behind the sun for several months and only re-emerged in March. (Aside: I do not understand why the Great Red Spot is not visible in the right hand image. Am trying to follow up on this.)

The SEB is composed primarily of ammonia ice. One theory is that the belts of Jupiter are lower levels of the atmosphere revealed by gaps in the higher paler clouds. If this is true, then one possibility for the disappearance of the SEB is that it is simply obscured by higher level clouds that have returned to this latitude.

The reappearance of the SEB will occur in perhaps the next year or two, and the event is predicted to be dramatic. Historically it is accompanied by planet-wide outbreaks of violent storms at the latitude of the SEB.

From space.com.

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