Newly published observations from space led researchers to learn more about the nature of Earth’s lightning storms, including eccentric phenomena such as “blue jets” and “elves”.
The International Space Station’s Atmosphere-Space Interaction Monitor (ASIM) Observatory captured a “blue” jet (upward-shooting lightning) from a thunderstorm cell, along with four “elves”, or optical and ultraviolet emissions from below the ionosphere ( According to the Nature paper published on 20 January).
ASIM, a European device that can cause lightning to fall from space. Its unique perimeter allows researchers to pursue elusive lightning events that are poorly understood after decades of research, mostly from ground observations.
Video: See an ‘alway’ and a ‘blue jet’ from space in this animation
related: NASA’s Juno spacecraft dances ‘sprite’ and ‘elves’ in Jupiter’s atmosphere
The European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement that understanding the origins of electricity can also provide insight into how greenhouse gases are concentrated in the Earth’s atmosphere.
“This weird-sweet [phenomena] It is very difficult to observe from the Earth’s surface, “the ESA said in the statement, about various forms of electricity.” 400 km from the International Space Station looking at the Earth’s weather. [250 miles] Above, “the agency said,” ASIM’s enhanced approach is shedding new light on weather events and their characteristics. “
ASIM includes a bundle of instruments such as a photometer (which measures the intensity of light), optical camera and X-ray and gamma-ray detectors. In 2018, ASIM was delivered to the space station to search for electrical discharges during Earth’s storms.
This latest bout of research produced a cover-page story in Nature with Scientific Papers, but it only represents a portion of ASIM’s scientific output. In 2019, a science paper based on ASIM results detected terrestrial gamma-ray radiance (TGF), which occurs when strong electric fields associated with thunderstorms excite particles in the atmosphere; These particles then emit radiation. The 2019 study was also the first to suggest that lightning triggers TGF and elves.
Recently published papers from 2020 include comparing observations of the same electric flash in Colombia from space and land, and a three-year summary of ASIM research describing applications in weather forecasting and public safety, among other data is.
A complete list of papers based on instrument data is available at the ASIM Science Data Center.
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