NASA’s Juno Space Probe captures lightning in Jupiter’s polar regions
247 – NASA’s Juno mission was able to spot a swirl near Jupiter’s north pole, highlighting a flash of lightning. On Earth, lightning originates from water clouds and most often occurs near the equator. However, on Jupiter, lightning is also thought to occur in clouds containing a solution of ammonia and water, and is more common near the poles.
In the coming months, Juno’s orbits will bring it closer to Jupiter more frequently. This proximity, along with the spacecraft’s passage over the gas giant’s night side, will create more opportunities for Juno’s science instruments to capture lightning in action.
The scene captured by Juno occurred during the probe’s near-Jupiter 31 flight, conducted on December 30, 2020. In 2022, citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed the image from raw data coming from the spacecraft’s JunoCam instrument.
When the original image was taken, Juno was about 32,000 kilometers above Jupiter’s clouds, at a latitude of about 78 degrees as it approached the planet.
With information from NASA.
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