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False Color of Jupiter's Great Red Spot
This image is a false color representation of Jupiter's Great Red Spot taken with Galileo's imaging system through three different near-infrared filters. This is a mosaic of eighteen images (6 in each filter) that were taken over a period of 6 minutes on June 26, 1996. The Great Red Spot appears pink and the surrounding region blue because of the particular color coding used in this representation. The red channel is the reflectance of Jupiter at a wavelength where methane strongly absorbs (889nm). Because of this absorption, only high clouds can reflect sunlight in this wavelength. The green channel is the reflectance in a wavelength where methane absorbs, but less strongly (727nm). Lower clouds can reflect sunlight in this wavelength. Finally, the blue channel is the reflectance in a wavelength where there are essentially no absorbers in the Jovian atmosphere (756nm) and one sees light reflected from the deepest clouds. Thus, the color of a cloud in this image indicates its height, with red or white being highest and blue or black being lowest. This image shows the Great Red Spot to be relatively high, as are some smaller clouds to the northeast and northwest that are surprisingly like towering thunderstorms found on earth. The deepest clouds are in the collar surrounding the Great Red Spot, and also just to the northwest of the high (bright) cloud in the northwest corner of the image. Preliminary modelling shows these cloud heights to range about 50km in altitude.