This is the first time they’ve ever seen this blue lightning shoot up like that.
An amazing 245 blue flashes were recorded as the space station flew 250 miles above the Bay of Bengal. Crazy activity!
For years, scientists have been piecing together evidence of peculiar phenomena known as red sprites, blue jets, pixies and elves – exotic types of electrical discharges that emanate from thunderstorms.
Just one week after his arrival on the International Space Station, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen captured the best evidence that blue jets exist.
Denmark’s National Space Institute has now published the results, confirming many kilometre-wide blue flashes around 18 km altitude, including a pulsating blue jet reaching 40 km. A video recorded by Andreas as he flew over the Bay of Bengal at 28 800 km/h on the Station shows the electrical phenomena clearly – a first of its kind.
“This is the first time they’ve ever seen this blue lightning shoot up like that” Mogensen said.
The video also shows a spidery tangle of red sprites flashing upward from the clouds. Satellites have documented such phenomena before, but Mogensen had much better view of the discharges.
Close study of the discharges, known as transient luminous events, could help scientists understand more fully how the atmosphere serves as a shield against space radiation.
“It is not every day that you get to capture a new weather phenomenon on film, so I am very pleased with the result – but even more so that researchers will be able to investigate these intriguing thunderstorms in more detail soon,” Mogensen said today in a report from the European Space Agency.