Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Jupiter's Lightning Is the Polar Opposite of Earth's

6_7_Jupiter lightning Lightning at Jupiter is just like Earth's. Except where it's not
Sandy Nunez | 09 June, 2018, 11:56

This provides for an additional 41 months in orbit around Jupiter and will enable Juno to achieve its primary science objectives.Juno is in 53-day orbits rather than 14-day orbits as initially planned because of a concern about valves on the spacecraft's fuel system.

"Jupiter lightning distribution is inside out relative to Earth". Data from NASA's Juno mission indicates that most of the lightning activity on Jupiter is near its poles.

According to Brown, Juno picked up radio signals from Jupiter's lightning in the megahertz range experienced on Earth. But thanks to the latest efforts of the Juno probe, we now know that it is actually far more similar to lightning on Earth than we had thought - but it's also still pretty weird, too. Researchers analysed more than 1,600 "whistlers"-emissions linked to the phenomena-captured by Juno in a Nature Astronomy paper also published Wednesday".

When Juno flew by the planet in 2016, she used a wide range of highly sensitive instruments to record the emissions of a gas giant. The data set of more than 1,600 signals, collected by Juno's Waves instrument, is nearly 10 times the number recorded by Voyager 1.

"No matter what planet you're on, lightning bolts act like radio transmitters, sending out radio waves when they flash across a sky", said Shannon Brown, a Juno researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft came nearly 50 times closer to the planet than Voyager 1 ever did, flying "closer to Jupiter than any other spacecraft in history", states Juno's principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who was involved in both studies.

The team, making use of Juno's Waves plasma and radio wave detector, discovered over 1,600 instances of lightning with peak rates of four strikes per second, Gizmodo reported.

Another interesting fact from the Juno data compared to the Voyager 1 data is that the radio waves from the lightning were in megahertz scale, that is thousands of times higher in frequency than previously seen.

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To learn more about the Jupiter's lightning storms and how they form and behave in the solar system's giant gaseous planet, the researchers have recently made a decision to gather all the data on storms on Jupiter sent by NASA's Juno probe which is still circling around the giant planet. "They were recorded in the megahertz as well as gigahertz range, which is what you can find with terrestrial lightning emissions", Brown explains.

"As we complete the remainder of the orbits in the mission, we'll get a clearer and clearer picture of the distribution of lightning, which maps out moist convective activity on the planet".

Lightning bolts on Jupiter are both similar and completely different from those on Earth, research suggests.

An artist's impression of lightning bolts in the atmosphere if Jupiter. The majority of Jupiter's zaps take place near the poles. "You can ask anybody who lives in the tropics - this doesn't hold true for our planet".

Also, the second study on thunderstorms of Jupiter confirms the findings of the first one. "On Earth, thunderstorms tend to cluster around low latitudes, and on Jupiter, it's the other way around".

"These findings could help to improve our understanding of the composition, circulation and energy flows on Jupiter", says Brown. The gas giant is much farther from the Sun and its poles aren't getting warmed, therefore having a less stable atmosphere.