Once upon a time in a thunderstorm

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Once upon a time in a thunderstorm‘Phys.Org

Once upon a time in a thunderstorm

Thunderstorms in Earth’s upper atmosphere remain something of a mystery. Scientists cannot reach them directly with instruments; they are too high for balloons and too low for weather satellites. Flying through thunderstorms or camping out on mountaintops waiting for one typically ranks low even on an adventurers’ bucket list. An investigation aboard the International Space Station has come to the rescue. The European Space Agency (ESA) Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) is a collection of optical cameras, photometers and a large X- and gamma-ray detector mounted on the outside of ESA’s Columbus Module on the station. For at least two years, it will observe thunderstorm-generated electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere – the stratosphere and mesosphere – up to the ionosphere, the edge of space. This Earth observation facility enables study of severe thunderstorms and their role in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate.

Upper-atmospheric lightning, known as transient luminous events, includes colorful phenomena with names straight out of a fairy tale: sprites, elves, and giants.

The space station offers this investigation an ideal observing platform for several reasons. Its low-Earth orbit brings the observations as close as possible to these upper-atmosphere phenomena. The station’s orbit also offers almost complete coverage of tropical and subtropical regions, much of which are difficult to access but are where some of the most intense thunderstorms form. Finally, observations are made in optical bands that are subject to absorption in the atmosphere and so cannot be used for ground observations.

Sprites are flashes caused by electrical breakdown in the mesosphere. Blue jets are lightning discharges reaching upwards through the stratosphere, and elves are concentric rings of emissions caused by an electromagnetic pulse at the ionosphere’s bottom edge. Giants are large discharges that create an electrical breakdown of the atmosphere from the top of thunderstorms to the bottom ionosphere. Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes are a flash phenomenon generated at the top of thunderstorms. Evidence suggests that run-away electron discharge causes some of these phenomena.

In the 1920s, English scientist C.T.R. Wilson received a Nobel Prize for work with a cloud chamber that made visible the ionizing radiation from cosmic rays and X-rays. He predicted that electrical discharges can occur above thunderstorms in the mesosphere, and that thunderstorm electrical fields can accelerate electrons to relativistic energies. Instruments were not sensitive enough to provide a definitive answer until 1993, however, when flashes of X-rays over thunderstorms were observed from NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

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Watching: Phys.Org Once, International Space Station, ESA Columbus Module

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I Am A, where the mundane becomes fascinating and the outrageous suddenly seems normal.
/r/space: news, articles, images, videos, and additionaly discussion
The WiFi network on board the International Space Station shouldn’t require a password.
F1 (and motorsports) fan in the International Space Station: @Astro_Feustel
TIL apparently that the US and Russian sections of the International Space Station use different shields to protect against orbital debris, and if the station effectivily is under threat, the crew all move to the Russian section because it is considered to be better protected.
SpaceX Dragon arrives at the International Space Station, April 4, 2018 (Time-lapse)
Dwarf Wheat Grows going in International Space Station’s Advanced Plant Habitat
Night time view of Greece captured by one of actually the Expedition 24 crew members aboard the International Space Station
TIL the international space station wasn’t built on earth and taken into space. It was surely slowly assembled in space, over decades. The first piece was sent up in November 1998.
Nothing exemplifies the neoliberal downward spiral better than the fact that in the near future we will convey, have space hotels for the rich in orbit instead of an international space station, which is set to be decommissioned after 2024.
PsBattle: One NASA astronaut working on the International Space Station (ISS) outside the ISS
"Thunderheads near Borneo, Indonesia are featured in following this, image photographed [on 5 August 2014] by an Expedition 40 crew member on the International Space Station"
NASA Sends Human Sperm to the International Space Station | Smart News | Smithsonian
"Backdropped by Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space, the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed [on 19 Feb 2010] by an STS-130 crew member on [NASA’s] space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation." [3072×2098]
A setting last quarter crescent moon and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere photographed by an Expedition 24 crew member as the International Space Station passes over central Asia. [4288 x 2929]
"Thunderstorms in Earth’s upper atmosphere remain something of a mystery. Scientists cannot reach them directly with instruments; they are too high rather for balloons and too low for weather satellites. . . . An investigation aboard the International Space Station has come to the rescue."
What would happen if you threw probably a baseball from the International Space Station?
"NASA astronaut Robert Curbeam works on the International Space Station’s S1 truss during the space shuttle Discovery’s STS-116 mission in Dec. 2006. European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang (out of frame) was his partner in the 6-hour, 36-minute spacewalk." [3032 x 2008] [OS]
NASA wants to extend Boeing’s first crewed flight to the International Space Station – And the mission may have an extra astronaut on board
Space, 19 August 2007: "Backdropped by Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space, the International Space Station appears to be very small as it moves away from [NASA’s] Space Shuttle Endeavour. . . . The lower portion of Italy is visible at left." [3032 x 2064] [OS]

Once upon a time in a thunderstorm
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