Jupiter Lightning is similar to Earth

Scientists have found that Jupiter’s lightning onset has a similar rhythm to the lightning that occurs in Earth’s clouds. This suggests that while there are huge differences in size and structure (Jupiter is a gas giant and Earth is a rocky planet), some thunderstorm processes on the two planets may be similar. A related paper was recently published in Nature Communications.

Lightning has been known to occur on Jupiter, but knowledge of the details of the lightning process is limited by previously measured temporal resolution. Comparing the lightning of Earth and Jupiter may improve the understanding of the processes involved, but this has been difficult to do so now due to limited data. It is not clear whether Jupiter’s lightning onset process is similar to Earth’s thunderstorms.

Ivana Kolmasova of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences and colleagues analyzed nearly five years of high-resolution data, acquired by the radio receiver of the Juno spacecraft in Jupiter’s polar orbit. They found that Jupiter’s radio pulses were spaced about 1 millisecond, indicating that the initial cascade characteristics of lightning were similar to those observed by Earth. These results suggest that Jupiter’s lightning initiation process may be similar to lightning in clouds in Earth’s atmosphere. (Source: Feng Weiwei, China Science News)

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