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What is the Lightning on Venus like?

The lightning on Venus is unique from that found on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn in that it is the only lightning known that is not associated with water clouds. Instead, on Venus, the lightning is associated with clouds of sulfuric acid.

What do we know about storm formation on Venus?

The magnetometer instrument on Venus Express detected electrical discharges when the spacecraft was orbiting close to the upper atmosphere of Venus. Most storms form high up in the atmosphere about 25 miles from the surface and all precipitation evaporates about 20 miles above the surface.

Could there be lightning on other planets?

Gurnett has been involved in the search for lightning on other planets across the solar system as well. Venus, for example, has a hot, dry atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide suffused with sulfuric acid. Could this brew become electrically charged and generate lightning?

Will there ever be a spacecraft on Venus?

In 2010, another spacecraft will arrive at Venus: the Japanese Venus Climate Orbiter. Scientists will then be able to compare observations between the two spacecraft. And any future landers will need to be hardened against these lightning strikes, just in case they happened to descend through a lightning storm.

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