As NASAs Cassini spacecraft approached Saturn last July, it found evidence that lightning on Saturn is roughly one million times stronger than lightning on Earth.
Thats just one of several Cassini findings that University of Iowa Space Physicist Don Gurnett will present in a paper to be published Thursday, Dec. 16 in Science Express, an online version of the journal Science, and in a talk to be delivered Friday, Dec. 17 at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
Other findings include:
The comparison between Saturns enormously strong lightning and Earths lightning began several years ago as the Cassini spacecraft prepared for its journey to Saturn by swinging past the Earth to receive a gravitational boost. At that time, Cassini started detecting radio signals from Earths lightning as far out as 89,200 kilometers from the Earths surface. In contrast, as Cassini approached Saturn, it started detecting radio signals from lightning about 161 million kilometers from the planet. "This means that radio signals from Saturns lightning are on the order of one million times stronger than Earths lightning. Thats just astonishing to me!" says Gurnett, who notes that some radio signals have been linked to storm systems observed by the Cassini imaging instrument.
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