Franklin Fact Archive
Back to Franklin Facts homepage.
Back to TV12
|MONDAY, APRIL 24 - LIGHTNING ON JUPITER
When I think about the weather, it's almost always Earth's weather, but I also keep tabs on the atmospheres of other planets.
For years we've known that Jupiter has large storms, 1000s of miles across. Some of these storms spawn tall clouds that look like oversized versions of thunderstorms on earth, and some of these clouds produce lightning. But unlike Earth, Jupiter's clouds are made mostly of poisonous methane and ammonia.
Recently, some of the measurements taken by the space probe Galileo, along with images of lightning discharges in Jupiter's atmosphere, suggest that clouds there also contain a bit of water and ice. This means that lightning on Jupiter might form in the same way it does on Earth: through collisions between water and ice which help to build up electrical charges within the clouds.
To both astronomers and meteorologists, it's reassuring to know that some processes work no matter how out-of-this-world the setting.