(Image credit- Italy 24 Press News
In recent research, NASA’s Juno spacecraft discovered that Jupiter’s lightning is remarkably comparable to that on Earth.
The composition of the ammonia clouds that cover Jupiter is similar to that of the clouds that cover Earth. They’re both formed of water.
And similar to how lightning typically occurs within clouds on Earth, several spacecraft that visited the largest planet of the solar system, including Juno, reported seeing an unsettling sight.
Despite the two worlds’ striking contrasts, scientists say that the data gathered by Juno is revealing new insights about the processes through which lightning occurs on Jupiter and Earth.
“An electric discharge called lightning is started inside thunderclouds. Ivana Kolmasova, a planetary scientist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and the study’s lead author, explained that the ice and water particles inside the cloud become charged by collisions and form layers of particles with the same polarity of charge.
“Through this procedure, a strong electric field is created, allowing the discharge to be started. Because scientists still don’t fully understand what exactly occurs inside thunderclouds, this explanation has been somewhat simplified, Kolmasova added.
Telltale radio emissions at audible frequencies were captured by NASA’s Voyager 1 probe in 1979 after it traveled through the solar system, confirming the presence of lightning on Jupiter.
Lightning on solar system planets
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are three other gas giants in the solar system where lightning has been seen. There is a substantial dispute among scientists regarding whether lightning has ever been observed in Venusian clouds.
Numerous research has outlined parallels between Jupiter’s and Earth’s lightning mechanisms. For instance, although the distribution of lightning on a huge planet is different from that of Earth, lightning rates on both worlds are comparable.
Also read: What Jupiter’s icy moons’ JUICE spacecraft hopes to discover
The tropics are the most dynamic places on Earth. The polar regions and mid-latitudes are where Jovian lightning is most common. Near the Earth’s poles, there is almost no lightning activity. According to Kolmasova, this indicates that the conditions for the production of both jovian and terrestrial thunderclouds are most likely highly different.
He said, stressing that more research is planned, “There have been some attempts to assess the power of lightning based on optical measurements and it was concluded that lightning on Jupiter might be equivalent to the strongest terrestrial lightning.
With traces of other gases, hydrogen, and helium make up the majority of Jupiter’s composition.