Scientists told about the storms on Jupiter

  • Scientists told about the storms on Jupiter

Scientists told about the storms on Jupiter

"Given the very pronounced differences in the atmospheres between Jupiter and Earth", said William Kurth, the leading author of the second study, the similarities between lightning on Jupiter and the lightning storms on Earth are stunning. The image is based on a JunoCam image.

The U.S. space agency must be impressed with the last two years of new findings because it announced it was extending the Juno mission through July 2021. The first observations of lightning on Jupiter were made in the 70s, more specifically, in 1979 when Voyager 1 caught some low-frequency radio waves coming from Jupiter, as Space.com reported.

Dr. Ivana Kolmašová, lead author of the Czech led study confirmed the NASA discoveries, their own study found a similar rate of lightning strikes to those found in thunderstorms on Earth. At the point when NASA sent its Voyager 1 rocket on its outing through our Solar System, its flyby of Jupiter uncovered that Jupiter does surely have lightning, however it wasn't delivering similar sorts of radio flags that researchers know about from lightning here on Earth.

"Many theories were offered up to explain it, but no one theory could ever get traction as the answer", Brown said of the problem. "We have also found Jupiter's radiation environment in this orbit to be less extreme than expected, which has been beneficial to not only our spacecraft, but our instruments and the continued quality of science data collected".

Brown revealed that, during Juno's first eight flybys of Jupiter, the spacecraft's Microwave Radiometer instrument picked up 377 lightning blasts, which "were recorded in the megahertz as well as gigahertz range" - the same as "what you can find with terrestrial lightning emissions". In the release, Brown explains a possible reason behind the discrepancy: "We think the reason we are the only ones who can see it is because Juno is flying closer to the lighting than ever before, and we are searching at a radio frequency that passes easily through Jupiter's ionosphere". Data from NASA's Juno mission indicates that most of the lightning activity on Jupiter is near its poles.

Most striking of all is how these discharges are distributed across the planet's surface.

Scientists have known for decades that lightning slashes through the skies of gas giant Jupiter just as it does on Earth. This doesn't hold true on Earth. It is believed that this effect is due to differences in the distribution of heat on both planets.

At the same time, it turns out that Jovian lightning is more frequent in the northern hemisphere than in the southern one, although scientists don't have an explanation yet as to why this happens.

On Jupiter, however, sunlight is much, much dimmer. Jupiter is much farther away from the sun. This means the planet receives 25 times less heat than our planet. The gas giant is much farther from the Sun and its poles aren't getting warmed, therefore having a less stable atmosphere.

According to scientists, this heat at Jupiter's equator is just enough to create stability in the upper atmosphere, inhibiting the rise of warm air from within.

Brown said these findings could help scientists' understand how energy flows on Jupiter. But another question looms.

"Even though we see lightning near both poles, why is it mostly recorded at Jupiter's north pole?"