Cassini Spots Daytime Lighting on Saturn
NASA's Cassini spacecraft that has been orbiting around Saturn has produced some images of lightning flashes that was observed during the huge storm on Saturn that occurred last year encircling the northern hemisphere.
This was one of the largest storms that were noticed close to the planet with bluish spots in the middle of swirling clouds. These bluish spots indicate flashes of lighting. This is the first time that the scientists have noticed the occurrence of such a peculiar event, lighting in visible wavelengths on the side of Saturn illuminated by the sun.
Like Us on Facebook
"We didn't think we'd see lightning on Saturn's day side -- only its night side," said Ulyana Dyudina, a Cassini imaging team associate based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The fact that Cassini was able to detect the lightning means that it was very intense."
It was in the year 2011 that the scientist had observed the occurrence of storm. And the lighting flashes appear brightest in the blue filter of Cassini's imaging camera on 6 March 2011.
Scientists exaggerated the blue tint in order to trace the lightning's location and size. There are trying to answer their doubts of whether the lighting is really blue of it is the short exposure of the camera in the blue filter that makes the lightning more visible. An analysis of the new images revealed that the energy from the visible lightning flashes alone could have spiked up to 3 billion watts over one second. That makes the daytime Saturn lightning on par with some of the strongest lightning flashes on Earth.
The lighting according to scientist was across a region 100 miles wide where it exited the cloud layer. Based on this information they reveal that lightning bolts originate in the clouds deeper down in the Saturn's atmosphere where water droplets freeze.
"As summer storm season descends upon Earth's northern latitudes, Cassini provides us a great opportunity to see how weather plays out at different places in our solar system," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Saturn's atmosphere has been changing over the eight years Cassini has been at Saturn, and we can't wait to see what happens next."