Scientists at the ISS noticed a blue jet lightning bolt down the cloud cover

Scientists aboard the International Space Station noticed a blue lightning bolt ravaging through the thunderous clouds. Usually, it would be difficult to spot the lightning from the ground because the electrical discharges encroach the tops of clouds. However, those in space can glimpse the cerulean light show from the vessels they are navigating. Two years ago, instruments boarding the space station recorded a blue jet ravaging through a thunderstorm cell close to Nauru, an island in the Pacific Ocean. The scientists reported this incident in a new message to the Nature journal.

The scientists reported that they first witnessed five extreme flashes of blue light, each taking between 10 and 20 milliseconds. The blue jet then descended to the stratospheric clouds, a region in the atmosphere ranging from 10 to 50 kilometers over the terrestrial ground. The narrative that the blue lightning jets emerge from an interaction between the positively charged upper clouds and the negative cloud boundary separating the clouds and the air above seems to hold.

The blue jet is, in fact, the static electricity created when opposing charges collide in the pathway to different atmospheric zones on Earth. However, scientists are yet to understand the actual height above the clouds that they can extend to while finding free space to manifest. The first four flashes emerged charged with small volumes of ultraviolet light, according to the scientists.

The scientists called these emissions elves since they emerged on the top part of the atmosphere. Elves is an acronym for Emissions of Light and Very Low-Frequency Perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources. The elves are intensely expanding rings gracing the ionosphere, a region that is not less than 60 kilometers from Earth’s surface. Scientists simulated this phenomenon when they injected radio waves to press electrons in a tube, imitating the ionosphere environment, realizing that they accelerate and interact with other particles in the atmosphere, creating light energy.

The authors stated that this is the definitive explanation for the phenomenon that happened that day. The scientists utilized the European Space Agency’s Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), gamma-ray detectors, X-ray detectors, optical cameras, and photometers to infer the whole phenomena happening in the stratosphere and ionosphere. Astrid Orr, a coordinator for human missions to space for the European Space Agency (ESA), stated that the ASIM instrument was developed for such incidents characterizing thunderstorms. Scientists have reason to believe that the incident will affect the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

This post was originally published on Market Research Sheets