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This image of Jupiter's white ovals BC and DE was taken by the Galileo spacecraft
Click on image for full size

The Appearance of the White Ovals

Of the 3 classic white ovals, BC is the largest, and has always been to the right of DE. FA was to the right of both of them. When they were born, in 1939, the ovals were elongated; BC and DE stretched 98,000 km. But they shrank, and by 1956 each oval stretched only 24,500 km. The white ovals gradually drift along, pretty close to the position in which they were born, but over time, FA has traveled faster than either BC or DE. By 1987, FA was almost 180 degrees east of BC, putting it on the opposite side of Jupiter from where the others are found.

In this picture, DE is on the left, and BC is on the right. DE and BC spin in the counter-clockwise direction (they are anti-cyclonic features). In the middle is a balloon shaped feature which is spins in the other direction. The balloon shape which the middle feature currently has is different from the shape it had when the Voyager spacecraft visited Jupiter in 1979. When Voyager visited in 1979 the middle feature was irregular, but still more rounded than it is today. Other white ovals in the vicinity are called WO1, WO2, and WO3. These white ovals have had much shorter lives than the three classic white ovals. WO2 and WO3 are shown in the picture.

Over time these three have changed their appearance many times, as well as jostling each other for position, and merging with each other. Scientists study the changing appearance of the white ovals in order to understand more about the weather of Jupiter, which very different from the weather of the Earth.

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