Dr. Glenn Orton (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], USA), lead of an international team of astronomers observing changes in Jupiter (Note), presented some of the team's new research results at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting in Reno, Nevada on October 17, 2012. Their data show a planet undergoing dramatic changes: continual peppering with small space rocks, wide belts of color change in its atmosphere, vanishing and reappearing hotspots, and clouds gathering over one area while dissipating over another.
These researchers have been making infrared observations of Jupiter since 2009 and comparing them with high-quality optical images taken by amateur astronomers. From 2009 to 2011, they studied the fading and darkening of the South Equatorial Belt (SEB), a prominent brown-colored belt just south of the equator, as well as similar fading and darkening of the North Equatorial Belt (NEB), a band just north of the equator. In 2011 the northern belt grew white over a wider extent than it had been in over a century; in 2012, it began to darken again.