Austrian Scientists Study 8-Month Long Thunderstorm on Saturn

PASADENA, Calif., Sept. 16 (UPI) — An Austrian-led team of scientists says it is tracking the longest continuously observed thunderstorm ever seen in the solar system.

The team, led by Georg Fischer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, says the storm has been in progress in Saturn’s atmosphere since mid-January.

Fischer and his team have been using NASA’s Cassini spacecraft’s radio and plasma wave science instrument to measure the powerful radio waves emitted by the Saturn storm. The radio waves, the space agency said, help scientists study Saturn’s ionosphere — the charged layer that surrounds the planet above the cloud tops.

NASA scientists said the previous record for solar system storms also came from Saturn, where a thunderstorm continued for 7 1/2 months — from the end of November 2007 until mid-July 2008.

Data derived from research involving the latest storm is to be presented next week in Potsdam, Germany, during the European Planetary Science Congress.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Nature & Ecosystems, Other, Solar
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