If you are told that our space industry has an extraordinary magical power, would you believe it? Of course, a person of logic – science and technology, cannot swallow such a story. But sometimes science does witness miracles, be it the survival of Opportunity rover in the previous dust storm or the reconnecting of a long-lost satellite, science as well as scientists have to believe that what they anticipate or believe to be true is just one side of the story, the other hand is yet to be explored.
Juno, the satellite of Jupiter which was supposed to die by now, has revealed a mystery nothing less than spectacular. The lightning on the surface of Jupiter has been a matter of research and analysis for decades, with missions being sent, images being taken for in-depth analysis.
The light was first seen by Voyager-I which flew past Jupiter on March 05, 1979. It was supposed to be created by radio signals at that time, but the theory proved to be wrong. The origin of this lightening on the surface of a planet as massive as Jupiter could not be explained adequately by the scientists.
Juno entered the orbit of the planet in July 2016 and had been sending images of the planet since then. The motive of Juno was to investigate the planet’s composition, gravity, magnetic fields, etc.
Microwave Radiometer Instrument (MWR), an instrument which records emissions is also installed on Juno to know the atmospheric conditions of the planet.
The understanding of the lightning as provided by Juno is that it resembles earth in certain terms. NASA explained that lightning bolts send out radio waves acting as a radio transmitter. The flash is common to every planet having an atmosphere. Before Juno, the information received was not sufficient to draw inferences on the matter since only visual records were available. Now with Juno flying very close to the surface of Jupiter, the study of signals has become possible. Scott Bolton who is the principal investigator of Juno stated that the discovery was possible only with Juno.
Jupiter’s lightning has been compared with that of Earth. However, these flashes were found in different positions with almost no connection with each other. On earth, the flashes are seen near the poles while for Jupiter they are visible near the equator. Mr. Brown from project Juno stated that “Jupiter lightning distribution is inside out relative to Earth. There is a lot of activity near Jupiter’s poles but none near the equator. You can ask anybody who lives in the tropics; this doesn’t hold true for our planet.”
The reason for flash is also unlike our planet, the absence of atmosphere’s stability and the presence of hot gases serve as the ingredients for this lightning. Thanks to the delay in putting an end to mission Juno, a remarkable discovery has been made.