Mighty storm rages on Saturn

Space scientists are watching the biggest thunderstorm ever seen raging on the planet Saturn.
It is bigger than the United States and its lightning bolts are 1,000 times more powerful than any on Earth.
Nasa are tracking the giant storm with the spacecraft Cassini which is orbiting the ringed planet, 750million miles away from us.
They first detected it by radio when the probe’s detectors picked up the noise of the lightning flashes. You can listen to the storm here.
And amazingly they turned to stargazers back on Earth to help them pinpoint the storm in Saturn’s permanently cloudy atmosphere.
Its position was identified by two amateur astronomers observing near Paris.
Donald Gurnett of the University of Iowa said: “This is the strongest lightning activity we’ve seen with Cassini since it arrived at Saturn in July 2004.”
Scientists hope to get a better view of the storm when the Nasa and European-funded spacecraft makes a close pass of the planet in the next few weeks.
The Nasa image above right is of the storm photographed on the night side of Saturn by Cassini.

© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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