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Record storm is raging on Saturn

15 Sep 2009, 05:59 UTC
Record storm is raging on Saturn
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Space scientists have been watching the longest continuously observed thunderstorm in the solar system raging on planet Saturn.The powerful storm, complete with lightning 10,000 times more powerful than on Earth, began in mid-January 2009 and is still going strong eight months later.Such storms are clearly regular events. The new record breaks a previous one set by a storm which lasted from November 2007 to July 2008, lasting 7.5 months. Amateur astronomers helped monitor that storm through their backyard telescopes.Both were spotted and monitored by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in orbit around the giant ringed world. Who knows how long storms have lasted in the years before Cassini's arrival at Saturn in 2004.The current thunderstorm on Saturn is the ninth to be observed since then. Scientists are able to listen in to very powerful radio waves emitted by the lightning flashes using the antennas and receivers of the Cassini Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument.The radio waves are about 10,000 times stronger than their terrestrial counterparts and originate from huge thunderstorms in Saturn's atmosphere with diameters around 3,000 km, Dr Georg Fischer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences will tell the European Planetary Science Congress today in Potsdam, Germany.Dr Fischer said: “These ...

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