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Checking For Thunderstorms on Titan-Saturn's Moon


I am VERY, VERY skeptical about this. Titan's temperatures are near -300 degrees Fahrenheit. How in the world would thunderstorms form?! :scratch:

With Jupiter and Saturn, thunderstorms are fueled from heat from within each gas giant. The ONLY way that I could see thunderstorm activity on Titan-and this is far-fetched- is from steam formed from volcanoes on Titan-and these volcanoes might be a water-ammonia-methane mix.

I think that microphone might have been better served if it were on a probe dropped into the atmosphere of Saturn or Jupiter, where you have those monster thunderstorms. I think it's wasted on Hyugens.

Now, I could be wrong....but I doubt it.

You'd have to wonder what severe weather parameters lead to these alien thunderstorms. As complex as an earth thunderstorm setup can be on a given day, the numbers explaning an alien storm event woud really be interesting.
You'd have to wonder what severe weather parameters lead to these alien thunderstorms. As complex as an earth thunderstorm setup can be on a given day, the numbers explaning an alien storm event woud really be interesting.

Titan seems to have an abundance of organic material. Maybe this is what the scientists are basing the existence of possible Titan thunderstorms on?

My only guess could be "ice volcanoes"-instead of lava, water/ammonia/methane. Steam and the huge temperature difference may create enough instability to cause thunderstorms there.

But that's just a guess.


I've already mentioned several times here that thunderstorms on Jupiter and Saturn are the most violent in the solar system. Jupiter's storms can reach 2,500 miles in diameter, and lightning there is 1,000 times stronger than Earth's. I believe that Saturn's lightning is as strong-although thunderstorms seem to be less frequent there. This may be a seasonal thing, and the shadow of the rings may play a part in thunderstorm activity on Saturn.
I'm gonna take a guess too... Perhaps the different chemical makeup of the atmosphere is more bouyant even at lower temperatures? This would allow a parcel of "chemical makeup" to rise, and build into a thunderstorm...
Well the concept of non-earth thunderstorms forces us to raise the question "What is a thunderstorm?"

I think that a basic definition and perhaps the definition used in this study is " A thunderstorm is any atmospheric disturbance that leads to the buildup and discharge of strong electrical charges" .

Since they seem to be looking to test the "pre biotic soup theory of electricity and amino acids and all that.. " Meaning they are looking for organic chemicals and electrical charges.

With a broad enough definition then you may be able to expand your temperature range and take into account the effects of other chemical compositions of alien atmospheres. With this in mind you may not need steam or liquid water or the factors that we are used to looking for here on Earth.

The generation of thunderclouds and the origin of lightning in Titan’s atmosphere is studied in Graz. Calculations show that a rapid development of thick, extensive methane clouds in the troposphere would attract a high number of free electrons, which are present due to the low abundance of electrophilic species . The entirely negative charge of the cloud may cause temporary maximum electric fields in excess of the breakdown field to initiate Earth-like 20 km long cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in Titan’s atmosphere. An investigation showed that such lightning flashes may provide additional energy for the formation of various chemical trace species including prebiotic molecules in the troposphere, where other chemical processes are inactive.

The lightning strokes produce a transient hot channel in which high-temperature chemistry takes place. The sudden heating initiates dissociation of bonded molecules. The atoms and ions are in equilibrium as long as the channel is hot, but as the lightning channel begins to cool down by mixing with the surrounding air and expands, various new molecules are formed by recombination of ions and atoms. Such molecules remain in excess of the equilibrium concentration during the cooling because the rates of depletion reactions are greatly reduced. This process is usually called “freeze-outâ€￾ of molecules. The significance of lightning generated organic chemistry in Titan’s atmosphere depends highly on the global lightning frequency, which is currently under study here. Electrical parameters of Titan atmosphere are measured in-situ with the HASI instrument on board of the Huygens probe. Additionally we investigate the propagation, absorption and reflection characteristics of electromagnetic waves - which may have their origin in lightning - through the ionosphere by a stratified medium model.