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Space

The Shrinking Giant Red Spot of Jupiter 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-small dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes "Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot — a swirling storm feature larger than Earth — is shrinking. This downsizing, which is changing the shape of the spot from an oval into a circle, has been known about since the 1930s, but now these striking new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images capture the spot at a smaller size than ever before."
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The Shrinking Giant Red Spot of Jupiter

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  • Rate of shrinkage (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Friday May 16, 2014 @05:57AM (#47016065) Homepage
    For those that don't RTFA it seems like the rate of shrinkage has dramatically accelerated in the last few years - the extent of this being something that probably ought to be included in the summary. It was ~23,500km across when the Voyager probes imaged it in 1979/1980 and is down to ~16,500km in the latest Hubble image, yet the current rate of shrinkage is quoted at almost 1,000km/year since 2012. That makes me think it's behaving like many Terrestial storms and it's going to blow over and dissipate quite quickly, which could mean that it could be gone entirely before the end of the decade. While it was never going to be around indefinitely I'm still somewhat stunned at the notion that I'm probably going to outlive something that has always seemed like a permanent fixture and a defining feature of Jupiter akin to Saturn's rings.
  • Re:Rate of shrinkage (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2014 @07:11AM (#47016371)

    It's not clear if the storm seen in the 1600s is the same as the one we're seeing now. It's only been continuously watched since 1878.

  • by ferret4 (459105) on Friday May 16, 2014 @07:44AM (#47016577)
    5 crews of 7 astronauts have gone into space on repair missions, including the first mission to repair Hubble's faulty lenses that would have rendered it useless. Add to that the 5 astronauts that took Hubble into space in the first place and you have a total of 40 people in space. Some of those 40 may possibly be the same across 6 missions, I'll let you research that yourself.
  • Re:Global warming (Score:2, Informative)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:30AM (#47016959) Homepage Journal

    I'd rather pay that than the current "save the highly profitable oil companies" subsidy

    The mods on the 2 comments above really demonstrate the hive mind / political / religious attitudes of the typical Slashdot mods.

    The saddest part is, even though the /. crowd is generally more intelligent than most other Internet discussion sites, yet even here the lie that "big oil" is getting "subsidies" is not corrected, but repeated (this is how a lie becomes unquestioned by the shitizens).

    Basically, Percentage Depletion is the oil and gas industry’s version of a depreciation deduction for its main asset, which is the oil and natural gas in the ground, commonly known as its reserves. Every industry of any kind is allowed a depreciation deduction on its assets under the U.S. Tax Code, but, far from being a “subsidy” for “big oil”, this tax treatment was in fact repealed for all integrated oil companies, i.e., ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, etc., in 1975, and is today available only to independent producers and royalty owners. So repeal of this extremely long-standing, completely common tax treatment would have no effect on “big oil” at all, and would in fact hit small producers and royalty owners harder than anyone else.

    Another great example of the specious mischaracterization of these tax treatments is the Manufacturer’s Tax Deduction, more commonly referred to as Section 199. The Section 199 provision was enacted by congress in 2004 as a means of encouraging manufacturers to relocate overseas jobs to the U.S., and is in no way specific to or limited to the oil and gas industry. In fact, the oil & gas industry’s ability to take advantage of this provision has already been singled out for limitation – in 2008, Congress reduced the industry’s deduction under this provision to 2/3rds of what other manufacturing industries are allowed to deduct.

    The tax code contains a couple of credits related to the oil and gas industry – the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Tax Credit, and the Marginal Well Tax Credit. Far from being “subsidies” to “big oil”, these tax credits are used almost exclusively by small to mid-size independent producers who tend to become the operators of marginal oil and gas fields as they age and are divested by the larger companies. The EOR credit was implemented in 1990, and the Marginal Well Credit was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

    Finally, let’s talk about Intangible Drilling Costs (IDCs), another feature of the federal tax code that will enjoy its’ 100th birthday in 2013. Basically, IDCs are the costs incurred by the oil and gas industry in the drilling of its wells. Since drilling wells is the only means of finding oil and natural gas, IDCs essentially amount to what any other industry would be able to deduct as a part of its cost of goods sold, a concept of accounting and tax law as old as the tax code itself. Independent producers and royalty owners are allowed an election to either a) expense these costs in the year they are incurred, or b) amortize them over a 5-year period. Again, most media reports commonly characterize this as a “subsidy” for “big oil”, as does the Obama Administration. The truth is that “big oil” – the ExxonMobils, Chevrons, Shells and BPs of the world – benefit much less from this tax treatment, it having been severely limited to them by congress in 1986, and again in 1992. And the truth also is that IDCs are not a “subsidy” to anyone engaged in the oil and gas business.

    Bottom line: Despite the Administration’s rhetoric that has been so widely repeated in the press, the tax treatments in question are not “subsidies” that are in any way outside of the mainstream of tax treatments commonly available to all U.S. industries. Rather than being mostly a benefit to “big oil”

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