Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Ebola - Keep Calm: Psychosis in Europe and the US as Disease Wreaks Havoc in Africa

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Algerian jihadists execute French hostage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Violence returns to Bangui

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia - Ebola crisis: Calls for health workers strike largely ignored

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola epidemic: Cases will 'rise above 9,000 this week', WHO says

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Nigeria: reports of ceasefire between government and Boko Haram

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Might #BringBackOurGirls have worked?

Read more

REPORTERS

Uruguay: President Mujica’s social revolution

Read more

ENCORE!

Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson and his love of France

Read more

Saturn trapped in longest solar system thunderstorm

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-15

A thunderstorm spotted by the US space probe Cassini on Saturn in January is still raging, making it the longest ever lightning storm in the solar system. The previous record-breaker lasted seven and a half months.

AFP - A tempest that erupted on Saturn in January has become the Solar System's longest continuously observed lightning storm, astronomers reported on Tuesday.
  
The storm broke out in "Storm Alley," a region 35 degrees south of the ringed giant's equator, researchers told the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, near Berlin.
  
Thunderstorms there can be as big as 3,000 kilometers (nearly 2,000 miles) across.
  
The powerful event was spotted by the US space probe Cassini, using an instrument that can detect radiowaves emitted by lightning discharge.
  
"The reason why we see lightning in this peculiar location is not completely clear," said Georg Fischer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in a press release.
  
"It could be that this latitude is one of the few places in Saturn's atmospher that allow large-scale vertical convection of water clouds, which is necessary for thunderstorms to develop."
  
But another possibility for the southerly location of "Storm Alley" could be seasonal, said Fischer.
  
In 1980 and 1981, the Voyager spacecraft flew by Saturn and observed lightning storms near the equator.
  
It could be that the mega-storms will now shift back to equatorial latitudes as Saturn continues its crawl around the Sun. A "year" in Saturn is equivalent to more than 29 Earth years.
  
The previous record-breaker for a Solar System thunderstorm was an event that lasted seven and a half months, running from November 2007 to July 2008, also spotted by Cassini.

Date created : 2009-09-15

COMMENT(S)