Sometimes, you forget that the universe is in a constant state of flux. For example, take Jupiter. This gas giant in our solar system is known for the colorful red bands of clouds encircling the planet. According to New Scientist, this is not the first time this has happened.
This is not the first time the south equatorial belt has disappeared. It was absent in 1973 when NASA’s Pioneer 10 spacecraft took the first closeup images of the planet and also temporarily vanished in the early 1990s.
The bands may normally appear dark simply because pale, high-altitude clouds prevalent in other regions of the planet are missing there, revealing darker clouds below, says Glenn Orton of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “You’re looking into different layers of the cloud structures of the planet,” he told New Scientist.
Jupiter is immense in size, so it’s phenomenal to think something like a set of clouds that size could just disappear seemingly overnight.