Mystery of Jupiter's Lightning --Solved by Juno Spacecraft: "Polar Opposite of Earth's"

An artist's impression of the lightning storms on Jupiter. Pic NASA  JPL

An artist's impression of the lightning storms on Jupiter. Pic NASA JPL

However, when NASA's Voyager 1 probe made a flyby of Jupiter in March 1979, there was a bit of a surprise.

That extraordinary encounter affirmed the existence of the theory of Nasa's scientists of Jovian lighting.

An artist's impression of lightning bolts in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter.

The findings of the research have been just disclosed in the latest research paper of scientific journal - Nature, which explain about the source of the results and how did the astronomers explored them from the Juno to resolve the unusual lightning mystery of Jupiter. The image is based on a JunoCam image.

Those close passes allowed scientists to discover another similarity between lightning on Jupiter and Earth: the peak rate of striking.

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. Many theories tried to explain the phenomenon, but none of them could ever visualize traction as the answer.

NASA has now funded Juno through FY 2022.

In particular, the Microwave Radiometer Instrument, which can detect radio emissions in a wide range of frequencies.

"In the data from our first eight flybys, Juno's MWR detected 377 lightning discharges", says Shannon Brown of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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"They were recorded in the megahertz as well as gigahertz range, which is what you can find with terrestrial lightning emissions".

Now back to our days, according to a new study published in the journal Nature, it was revealed that the giant planet's lightning is more similar to Earth's than it was thought before.

The Juno mission is set out to explore Jupiter's structure, mass, core, and origin.

"There is a lot of activity near Jupiter's poles but none near the equator". Why are so many of Jupiter's lightning storms clustered around the poles when those on Earth are more common near the equator?

Earth's derives the vast majority of its heat externally from solar radiation, courtesy of our Sun.

What this means is that as the hot, moist air rises from deep in the Jovian atmosphere, it meets a cap of warm air in the tropical regions of Jupiter. It brought to light many new facts associated with the huge gas world including- the red spot's depth, the 3D imagery of gas underneath the surface of the planet, and the functionality of Jupiter's auroras.

Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere is riddled with storms, so it stands to reason there's lightning there too. The team believes that this difference in temperature is enough to stabilize Jupiter's upper atmosphere around the equator, preventing gases further below to rise through convection.

But the findings did reveal something important about Jupiter's atmospheric composition and circulation. But another question looms. "Even though we see lightning near both poles, why is it mostly recorded at Jupiter's north pole?" Well, long before we had Juno orbiting Jupiter, scientists were able to record the lightning on this planet only within the kilohertz range. For one thing, Jupiter's lightning can strike at the same rate as lightning on Earth-Juno's more sensitive equipment picked up about six times more strikes than Voyager did, detecting up to four lightning strokes per second, reports Gizmodo.

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