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Cassini eyeballs Saturnian lightning storms

Another first for spacecraft

By Lucy Sherriff, 23 Jul 2004

The Cassini spacecraft, now in orbit around Saturn, has spotted lightning in the gas giant's atmosphere, something that has never been directly observed before.

The spacecraft's radio and plasma wave science instrument picked up radio emisions from storms on the planet The BBC reports. The results will help observers on Earth learn more about the Saturnian atmosphere and weather.

"We have observed several storms and used direction finding to detect their origin with good radio wave resolution," said mission scientist Phillippe Zarka. "This is good confirmation that what we have is lightning from Saturn's atmosphere." Now, the scientists will probe Titan for similar phenomena. ®

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