Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

US media reacts to ebola scare

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: Center for Disease Control Confirms First Case of Virus in US (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: Center for Disease Control Confirms First Case of Virus in US

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

I will support Hillary Clinton, will.i.am tells France 24

Read more

FOCUS

Germany: Spread of radical Islam propaganda sparks concerns

Read more

ENCORE!

Corrie Nielsen: Up and Coming Talent at Paris Fashion Week

Read more

FACE-OFF

French Senate election: A new blow for Hollande

Read more

ENCORE!

Encore's Film Show: Julie Gayet, Denzel Washington, and cartoon madness

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Turkey's strategy towards the Islamic State group

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)