Shop Windows to the Universe

With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This image of Jupiter's white ovals BC and DE was taken by the Galileo spacecraft
Click on image for full size
JPL/NASA

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.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist, mineral and fossil specimens, and educational games!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

An Overview of the Evolution of Jupiter's Atmosphere

The giant planets have definitely changed since their formation. But how much remains to be seen. Most of the original air of the giant planets remains in place. (The earth-like planets lost most of their...more

Jupiter's Mesosphere

The mesosphere of Jupiter is a region of balance between warming and cooling. That essentially means that nothing happens there. Except for diffusion, the atmosphere is still. Upper reaches of the atmosphere,...more

An Overview of Jupiter's Atmospheric Structure

As on Earth, the atmosphere of Jupiter consists of a troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The troposphere is the region where the visible clouds are to be found. The stratosphere, as...more

Jupiter's Stratosphere

The stratosphere of Jupiter is a region of warming as determined by infrared measurements of methane (CH4) in the region. Like the troposphere, the stratosphere is warmed by the sun, warmed by Jupiter's...more

Jupiter's Troposphere

The troposphere of Jupiter is where the clouds are. Clouds form in regions of strong atmospheric motion, when condensation takes place. The troposphere is the region rapidly stirred by vertical motions....more

Altitude Variations of the Belts & Zones

On Jupiter, the winds in the belts and zones blow first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Wind blows east in a belt, and west in a zone. The clouds rise up in a belt, and drop down in a...more

Jupiter's Belts and Zones

The striped cloud bands on Jupiter are certainly not as straight as they appear to be in this picture! The picture shows that the striped pattern is divided into belts and zones. The belts and zones of...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA