Special Reports

Polar Lightning and Decadal-Scale Cloud Variability on Jupiter

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5848, pp. 226-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.1147912

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Abstract

Although lightning has been seen on other planets, including Jupiter, polar lightning has been known only on Earth. Optical observations from the New Horizons spacecraft have identified lightning at high latitudes above Jupiter up to 80°N and 74°S. Lightning rates and optical powers were similar at each pole, and the mean optical flux is comparable to that at nonpolar latitudes, which is consistent with the notion that internal heat is the main driver of convection. Both near-infrared and ground-based 5-micrometer thermal imagery reveal that cloud cover has thinned substantially since the 2000 Cassini flyby, particularly in the turbulent wake of the Great Red Spot and in the southern half of the equatorial region, demonstrating that vertical dynamical processes are time-varying on seasonal scales at mid- and low latitudes on Jupiter.

View Full Text