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Space Science Reviews

, Volume 137, Issue 1–4, pp 257–269 | Cite as

Ground-Based and Space-Based Radio Observations of Planetary Lightning

  • P. ZarkaEmail author
  • W. Farrell
  • G. Fischer
  • A. Konovalenko
Article

Abstract

We review radio detection of planetary lightning performed by Voyager, Galileo (including in-situ probe measurements), Cassini, and other spacecraft, and compare the information on the underlying physics derived from these observations—especially the discharge duration, at Jupiter and Saturn—with our knowledge of terrestrial lightning. The controversial evidence at Venus is discussed, as well as the prospects for lightning-like discharges in Martian dust-storms (and studies on terrestrial analogues). In addition, lightning sources provide radio beacons that allow us to probe planetary ionospheres. Ground-based observations of Saturn’s lightning have been attempted several times in the past and have been recently successful. They will be the subject of observations by the new generation of giant radio arrays. We review past results and future studies, focussing on the detection challenges and on the interest of ground-based radio monitoring, in conjunction with spacecraft observations or in standalone mode.

Keywords

Planetary lightning Planetary atmospheres Atmospheric electricity Planetary ionospheres Radioastronomy Radio emission Radio wave propagation 

Abbreviations

e.m.

electromagnetic (waves)

f

radio frequency

fcutoff

cutoff frequency

fpeak

peak frequency of lighting’s radio spectrum

fpe

plasma frequency

HF

high frequency (e.m. waves)

i

stroke current (i o = current constant; α,β = time constants)

Jy

Jansky

k

wave vector

LT

Local Time

LOFAR

LOw Frequency ARray (in construction)

LWA

Long Wavelength Array (USA)

μ

refractive index

NDA

Nançay decameter array, France

Ne

electron density

P(f)

spectral power

RPWS

Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument on Cassini orbiter

Speak

flux density at f peak

SED

Saturn’s electrostatic discharges

Smin 

noise level/detection threshold

τ

stroke duration

θ

angle of incidence of the radio wave on the ionosphere

UED

Uranus’ electrostatic discharges

UTR-2

Ukrainian T-shape Radiotelescope, mark 2 (near Kharkov, Ukraine)

VLF

very low frequency

planetary angular diameter

PACS

92.60.Pw 52.80.Mg 94.20.-y 95.55.Jz 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Zarka
    • 1
    Email author
  • W. Farrell
    • 2
  • G. Fischer
    • 3
  • A. Konovalenko
    • 4
  1. 1.Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, UPMCUniversité Paris DiderotMeudonFrance
  2. 2.Science Exploration DirectorateNASA Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA
  3. 3.Dept. of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Radio AstronomyNational Academy of Sciences of UkraineKharkivUkraine

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