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 feature, and has always been to the east of DE. FA was eastward of both of them. At formation, in 1939, the ovals were elongated; BC and DE spanned 80 degrees in longitude or 98,000 km. But they shrank, and by 1956 each oval spanned only 20 degrees in longitude or 24,500 km. Over time, FA has traveled faster than either BC or DE. By 1987, FA was 160 degrees east of BC.

In this picture, DE is on the left, and BC is on the right. DE and BC are anti-cyclonic features, which means that they spin in the counter-clockwise direction (since they are in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter). In the middle is a balloon shaped feature which is a cyclonic feature, and 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. 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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