A Caltech Library Service

Lightning storms on Saturn observed by Cassini ISS and RPWS during 2004–2006

Dyudina, Ulyana A. and Ingersoll, Andrew P. and Ewald, Shawn P. and Porco, Carolyn C. and Fischer, Georg and Kurth, William and Desch, Michael and Del Genio, Anthony and Barbara, John and Ferrier, Joseph (2007) Lightning storms on Saturn observed by Cassini ISS and RPWS during 2004–2006. Icarus, 190 (2). pp. 545-555. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.03.035.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We report on Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) data correlated with Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) observations, which indicate lightning on Saturn. A rare bright cloud erupt at ∼35° South planetocentric latitude when radio emissions (Saturn Electrostatic Discharges, or SEDs) occur. The cloud consisting of few consecutive eruptions typically lasts for several weeks, and then both the cloud and the SEDs disappear. They may reappear again after several months or may stay inactive for a year. Possibly, all the clouds are produced by the same atmospheric disturbance which drifts West at 0.45 °/day. As of March 2007, four such correlated visible and radio storms have been observed since Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion (July 2004). In all four cases the SEDs are periodic with roughly Saturn's rotation rate (h^(10)m^(39)), and show correlated phase relative to the times when the clouds are seen on the spacecraft-facing side of the planet, as had been shown for the 2004 storms in [Porco, C.C., and 34 colleagues, 2005. Science 307, 1243–1247]. The 2000-km-scale storm clouds erupt to unusually high altitudes and then slowly fade at high altitudes and spread at low altitudes. The onset time of individual eruptions is less than a day during which time the SEDs reach their maximum rates. This suggests vigorous atmospheric updrafts accompanied by strong precipitation and lightning. Unlike lightning on Earth and Jupiter, where considerable lightning activity is known to exist, only one latitude on Saturn has produced lightning strong enough to be detected during the two and a half years of Cassini observations. This may partly be a detection issue.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Ingersoll, Andrew P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Ewald, Shawn P.0000-0002-1567-9154
Fischer, Georg0000-0002-0431-2381
Additional Information:© 2007 Elsevier Inc. Received 13 November 2006; revised 14 March 2007. Available online 6 May 2007. This research was supported by the NASA Cassini Project. The research at the University of Iowa was supported by NASA through Contract 1279973 with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. U.D. thanks Ashwin Vasavada for the comments on the manuscript. We thank Don Banfield and another anonymous reviewer for their suggestions.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Lightning; Saturn, atmosphere; Atmospheres, dynamics; Meteorology; Spectroscopy
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130124-072143796
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ulyana A. Dyudina, Andrew P. Ingersoll, Shawn P. Ewald, Carolyn C. Porco, Georg Fischer, William Kurth, Michael Desch, Anthony Del Genio, John Barbara, Joseph Ferrier, Lightning storms on Saturn observed by Cassini ISS and RPWS during 2004–2006, Icarus, Volume 190, Issue 2, October 2007, Pages 545-555, ISSN 0019-1035, 10.1016/j.icarus.2007.03.035. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36551
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:24 Jan 2013 16:06
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:22

Repository Staff Only: item control page