Now is not the time for calm analysis, but for panic:
“It’s always doing this,” Simon told me. The Great Red Spot “is always pulling stuff in and parts of it are flying off. That is not unusual at all.” The difference this time, she said, has to do with both the appearance and the behavior of those mysterious red flakes.
For starters, the material flowing into and around the red spot has taken on a reddish color more like the storm’s, creating the illusion of shedding. Simon told me that shift in color occurs before the material ever reaches the storm, while Glenn Orton, a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, thinks the shift happens later.
Either way, the material’s unusual movements have only enhanced the illusion. Typically, Simon explained, material from the jet streams either integrates into the storm or passes clean through. In recent months, though, it has been noncommittal at times, circling the periphery of the storm a few times before escaping its orbit, as though going for a quick carousel ride. That outer circuit, Orton says, has “gone from a two-lane country road … to a six-lane highway.” The ribbons of gas torn from the storm may never really have been part of it at all, more commuters than inhabitants.
Taken together, these findings offer a clear answer to the mystery of why the Great Red Spot is disintegrating: It isn’t. But with that simple answer comes a new mystery just as perplexing as the first: If it wasn’t disintegrating, why did it look like it was? As is often the case with the workings of the Great Red Spot, scientists don’t yet have an explanation.
Go here to read the rest. God gives us the unexplained to prod us along the paths of reason or faith or both.