Blue jet lighting and Elves spotted in Earth’s stratosphere from space

The recent news from the International Space Station is that researchers have seen Earth’s lighting storms, which include elves and blue jets. These were captured by the International Space Station’s Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM).

ASIM, which is a European instrument, is capable of peering down lighting right from space. It has a unique and superior perch that allows researchers to search and find mysterious lighting phenomena that were not well understood for many years, mostly from ground observations. Getting the know-how of this lighting’s origin could offer a better perception of greenhouse gases concentration in Earth’s atmosphere.

The European Space Agency said that it is not easy to observe such phenomena from the Earth’s surface. This is because of the Earth’s weather. The International Space Agency is about 250 miles above. The ASIM is trying to enhance this perspective casting new light on weather occurrence. It has a lot of instruments such as X-ray and gamma-ray detector, three ultraviolet, optical cameras, and photometer, which helps to measure light intensity. ASIM installation on the space station was in 2018, and it was delivered to try to find discharges during Earth’s storms.

On 10th October 2018, a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) was seen in Indonesia east of Sulawesi Island. It was observed at 13:01:33 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Terrestrial gamma-ray flash is formed when thunderstorm’s powerful electric field arouse atmosphere particles, emitting radiation. The researchers first noticed a light increase which is similar to a lightning bolt. In the process, the cloud forms both the leader and an electric field. After that, they discovered a large peak in gamma-rays and X-rays, which is the same as the TGF followed by a big optical pulse.

The optical pulse then moved up from the thunderstorm to the ionosphere, an area that is about 50-600 miles over the Earth’s surface. The powerful pulse then elicits the ionosphere’s lower region.

Before the study, elves were not associated with thunderstorms. It was suggested that the same lightning bolts activate both the elves and TGFs, but it is not well known if TGFs play any role in elves production. Another finding from the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmosphere shows that TGFs occur immediately before visible lightning. Torsten Neubert, the ASIM’s head scientist, said that many things are occurring inside space observations for lightning, such as understanding the phenomenon and monitoring weather. This combined will help come up with something better in future.

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