Study Finds Similarities In Lightning Between Earth And Jupiter

Lightning in Jupiter has always been a mystery for the astronauts and space researchers from Earth. In 1979, during Voyager 1’s flyby, the spacecraft detected radio signals similar to lightning while flying around the gaseous planet. Looking into the present day, Ivana Kolmašová and her team have devised a study, decoding hundreds of thousands of radio wave snapshots based on data collected by the Juno spacecraft of NASA. Ultimately discovering there are similarities in lightning between Earth and Jupiter.

They used five years of radio wave data – to find out that the radio wave records of Jovian lightning pulsed at a particular rate, similar to the phenomenon of Intracloud lightning on Earth. These are the arcs of electricity on Earth, which never touch the ground.

Similarities In Lightning Between Earth And Jupiter

The researchers were keen on establishing that even though the two worlds are quite different, most importantly in size, similarities in lightning are possible.

On Earth, the phenomenon of lightning originates inside the clouds and looks like strong strokes for regular spectators from a distance. However, this entire spark of electricity is a distinct step for the researchers, where each step beams an isolated radio emission. Using advanced technological tools to detect the same is the only way to understand the entire phenomenon.

Similarities In Lighting Between Earth And Jupiter
Illustrated image of the lightning phenomena in Jupiter

So far, it was unknown that the same process also happens on Jupiter. Because NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2, Cassini and Galileo, which had studied lightning on Jupiter so far, were not that technologically advanced. The instruments were not sensitive enough to understand and detect the radio signals in detail.

However, things are different for the Waves instrument onboard Juno. It was able to collect 10 times more radio emissions than its predecessors. Thus detecting similarities in lightning between Earth and Jupiter.

Moving Further Into The Finding Struggle

As per Ivana Kolmašová, the most time-consuming and difficult part of this study was searching for the lightning signals among the records of the Waves instrument.

Also, the team brings to light that the lightning phenomenon might be the same, but the space of their occurrence is different. In Jupiter, the large chunks of clouds with thunderstorms are detected in the polar regions, away from the equator. However, one can see most of the lightning and thunderstorms near the equator area on Earth.

A Hope For Life

As per some research, lightning strikes on Earth under all possibilities have smelted some of the chemical ingredients that form the building blocks of life. So similarities in lightning between Earth and Jupiter can possibly make up for hope for life in Jupiter. However, the same is yet to get revealed.

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