Saturn’s lightning 10,000 times more powerful than Earth’s

NASA / MSNBC

I love being in the middle of a thunderstorm – being in the center of the light, noise and heavy rain is a really exhilarating experience. But new research from NASA’s Cassini probe makes me think that maybe Saturn would be an even better place to experience a massive storm.

Why? Saturn’s storms not only have thunderbolts thousands of times more powerful than Earth’s measly zaps of electricity, but the storms can also last for months on end. The current storm being observed by Cassini has been going on for over five months now – a record for the ringed planet.

Wikipedia Saturn’s huge size obviously explains why thunderstorms are so much bigger there than on Earth, but is that the only reason? Saturn, Jupiter and the other gassy planets are actually always bound to have more huge storms like this, because unlike our planet, their atmosphere is the planet, not just a thin layer on top of loads of rock.

Cassini’s discovered some other cool things about Saturn too – a 2000-mile wide storm near the South Pole that looked like a hurricane was discovered back in 2006, and of course Saturn’s many moons are proving to even more interesting than the giant planet itself.

That’s why it’s great news that NASA recently announced that funding for Cassini will continue until at least 2010 – hopefully even longer. Go Cassini!

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4 Responses

  1. Do the storms in Saturn move around the planet — like the way ours do on earth — or do they stay in one place? I recently saw something on TV about Jupiter, how that big red spot is one giant tornado that is continually wound up by the two prevailing systems on its north and south. You’d think that the ground underneath would be worn down over time and weather, and if the storm lasts forever, then the planet would be pulverized!

  2. The storms do move a bit, like hurricanes do on Earth, but they don’t move very far before they die out – usually no more than a few degrees around the planet.

    Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is only thought to be several hundred years old, which in cosmic terms isn’t long enough to have much effect on the material below the storm.

    Thanks for the comment – this is interesting stuff! :)

  3. thats old why is it still on here why dont u put some new news on the web

  4. [...] Saturn’s lightning 10,000 times more powerful than Earth’s Posted on Wednesday April 30, 2008 by Richard [...]

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