Artist's concept of lightning in Jupiter's northern hemisphere.
Juno has been mapping Jupiter "slice-by-slice" as it orbited and recording data on Jupiter's powerful gravitational field, the Business Insider reported, but because of unexpected problems with Juno's propulsion system, the spaceship had made only 14 of 32 planned close passes to the planet. A whistler is a radio emission generated by lightning that sounds like a descending, whistled tone first recorded by Voyager 1 as it passed Jupiter 40 years ago. Previous studies suggested the lightning-associated radio signals didn't match the details of the radio signals produced by lightning here at Earth.
However, all of that changed completely when Juno, NASA's latest mission to understand the turbulent environment of Jupiter, completed eight close flybys of the gassy planet. This plan no longer holds, and NASA will allow the spacecraft to orbit Jupiter three more years to enable the probe to meet its goal. It records emissions coming from Jupiter and reads it across a wide spectrum of frequencies.
Dr. Ivana Kolmašová, lead author of the Czech led study confirmed the NASA discoveries, their own study found a similar rate of lightning strikes to those found in thunderstorms on Earth.
The mystery remained unsolved for nearly 40 years because every spacecraft that flew by Jupiter during this period - Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini - recorded radio waves that didn't match those produced by lightning on Earth. Many theories tried to explain the phenomenon, but none of them could ever visualize traction as the answer.
The first time you approach the planet, the spacecraft has recorded 377 of the lightning discharges, such as those that occur on Earth.
"Our unique orbit allows our spacecraft to fly closer to Jupiter than any other spacecraft in history, so the signal strength of what the planet is radiating out is a thousand times stronger", Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, said.
NASA's Juno spacecraft will maintain its 53-day polar orbit around Jupiter during its continued mission. Our equator receives a much larger slice of this energy than the rest of the planet (that's why it's the hottest bit), meaning air masses above the equator have a lot of energy at their disposal to move around through convection.
"Given the very pronounced differences in the atmospheres between Jupiter and Earth, one might say the similarities we see in their thunderstorms are rather astounding."
This was probably due to the way that the gas giant was heated, the team believed - because on Earth, where we received most of our heat from the sun's radiation, the hottest place is the equator which receives the most of the sunshine. They do offer some warmth, warming up Jupiter's equator more than the poles - similarly as they warm up Earth. At the equator, it's just warm enough that warm gas doesn't rise, but at the poles the gusts are lifted, driving convection to create lightning. But another question looms. But the origin of Jovian lightning has remained a mystery up until another famous flyby of Jupiter, this time by the Juno spacecraft. These signals have been collected by Juno's Waves instrument, is nearly 10 times more than the number collected by the shuttler Voyager 1.