Jupiter is famous for being the largest planet in the Solar System, and along with its grand size, it’s also well-known for its iconic red spot. Despite its insignificant size compared to the entirety of the universe, our Solar System is a fascinating place and home to mesmerizing planets. Mars was once home to ancient lakes, Saturn has a jaw-dropping ring system, and Uranus is the only planet in the Solar System that spins on its side.

Perhaps more impressive than all of those other planets is Jupiter. Around 484 million miles from the Sun, Jupiter is composed entirely of different gases and lacks a hard surface. It’s composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, takes 12 Earth years to complete an orbit around the Sun, and is 11x larger than the Earth. It’s not a planet that humans will be able to visit any time soon (if ever), but that only makes Jupiter all the more curious.

Related: How Long Is A Day On Jupiter? You Wouldn’t Get Much Work Done

As tantalizing as its gaseous makeup and gargantuan size are, those aren’t the only reasons Jupiter is so intriguing. In one section of the planet is a large red spot. It stands out among Jupiter’s swirling patterns of gas and looks like someone drew on the planet with a red marker. This is known as Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot.’ It’s a massive storm system that’s been raging on Jupiter for hundreds of years, and it’s something scientists are still grappling to fully understand.

The Great Red Spot Is A Massive Storm On Jupiter

Great Red Spot NASA

Photo credit: NASA

While the Great Red Spot looks tiny compared to the entirety of Jupiter, it’s the largest recorded storm system astronomers have found in our Solar System. Measuring around 10,000 miles wide, the Great Red Spot is nearly twice the size of Earth. It also has a recorded depth between 186 and 310 miles deep, meaning it could extend beyond the International Space Station if someone placed the Great Red Spot on Earth. That’s another way of saying that the Great Red Spot is huge.

In addition to its impressive size, the storm of the Great Red Spot is also powerful. NASA says its recorded winds of around 400mph — twice the speed of the fastest ~200mph winds recorded on Earth during record-breaking hurricanes. The movement of the Great Red Spot’s wind is also noteworthy. Because the Great Red Spot is “an anticyclone swirling around a center of high atmospheric pressure,” it rotates in the opposite direction of hurricanes on Earth.

While the Great Red Spot’s color, size, and power are fairly easy to grapple with, other details about the giant storm system remain unclear to scientists. What causes the Great Red Spot’s famous color? What initially started the storm? What does it look like beneath the clouds in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere? These are all questions that scientists are trying to get a firm answer to, but the complicated nature of Jupiter means it may be a while before that happens. But even with our fairly limited understanding of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, it’s easy to see why people are so enthralled with it.