Jupiter’s Lightning Resembles the One of Earth, and NASA is Looking for Explanations

Jupiter’s Lightning Resembles the One of Earth, and NASA is Looking for Explanations

Here’s a disappointing fact about Jupiter: although the planet is so large that over 1,300 Earths would fit inside, astronomers are almost certain that there’s no ET living there. First of all, Jupiter isn’t called a gas giant for no good reason. The planet doesn’t have a solid surface, which means that you would literally sink toward its core at a huge speed if you somehow tried to land.

But we’re far from done when it comes to how peculiar Jupiter is. The huge giant gas planet holds some strange secrets beneath its ammonia clouds. Recent data from NASA’s Juno probe reveals that lightning occurs within the water clouds of Jupiter, much like on Earth, as Reuters reveals. Despite their stark differences, the lightning processes on both planets show some similarities.

Juno’s radio receiver captured high-resolution data over the course o five years, unveiling that Jupiter’s lightning initiation follows a rhythmic pattern akin to thunderstorms on Earth. The pulses of lightning on Jupiter occur in millisecond time intervals.

Ivana Kolmasova, the lead author of the new study and who activates at the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Prague, explained, as Reuters quotes:

Lightning is an electric discharge which is initiated inside thunderclouds. The ice and water particles inside the cloud get charged by collisions and form layers of particles with the charge of the same polarity, 

By this process, a huge electric field is established and the discharge can be initiated. This explanation is somewhat simplified because scientists are still not completely sure what is exactly happening inside thunderclouds.

It’s amazing how the newfound knowledge sheds light on the intriguing similarities between our relatively small rocky world and the colossal gas giant known as Jupiter. Even so, it needs to be emphasized that the chances for Jupiter to harbor alien life forms are practically zero.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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