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NASA records largest thunderstorm on Saturn

Those strange sounds were captured by the Cassini spacecraft when it witnessed a lightning storm on Saturn on January 23 and 24.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 13:22 IST

Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the odd sounds received by the Cassini spacecraft indicate largest ever thunderstorm on Saturn.

Those strange sounds were captured by the Cassini spacecraft when it witnessed a lightning storm on Saturn on January 23 and 24.

The spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn and its moons since July 1, 2004.

The Cassini mission was managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory based in Pasadena, California.

According to Bill Kurth of the University of Iowa, the deputy principal investigator for the radio and plasma wave science instrument, cracks and pops "heard" by a receiver on board Cassini were radio emissions generated by the lightning flashes.

"We are going to find out more about those sounds and what they mean...It's definitely a discharge process, a big spark that releases a lot of energy in a very short period of time," Kurth said.

This wasn't the first time Cassini has witnessed lightning, but this was the biggest lightning storm, Kurth noted.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 13:09 IST