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NASA shows off new 4K views of Jupiter

The first in an new series of Hubble planetary portraits

New images of Jupiter captured by the Hubble Space Telescope reveal details never seen before, including a newly identifiable filament in the "Great Red Spot" — a hurricane bigger than the size of three Earths that has raged for hundreds of years on the massive planet. The images were released on the website for NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center.

NASA scientists also used the images to create a 4K video of the planet's rotation. It's part of the agency's ongoing effort to release more UHD footage on both YouTube and its new dedicated 4K television channel, which was announced last month.

Hubble is still showing us new things 25 years later

The Hubble has, despite a few nearly fatal setbacks, been going strong for 25 years now. But with a more powerful successor on the horizon in the James Webb Space Telescope (slated to launch in 2018), scientists have started to aim Hubble at different targets; namely, the planets in our solar system. The new program will study the planet's solar system annually, starting with Jupiter and then moving to Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn. Committing more time to these observations can help us better understand how these planets change over time.

The two new image maps of Jupiter revealed a "rare wave" near the equator and "filament-like feature" inside the Great Red Spot, neither of which had ever been seen before. The images also contributed evidence that the Great Red Spot is shrinking, as its longest axis now appears 150 miles (240 kilometers) shorter than it did in 2014.

The images were taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 3, which was installed on Hubble during the telescope's final servicing mission. Wide Field 3 is more commonly known for offering stunning views of things that are supremely far off in space, like the famous "Extreme Deep Field" image taken in 2012 that shows some of the oldest galaxies ever observed. Now it will help us better understand objects that are much closer, starting with this wonderful new view of Jupiter.


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