ESA Shares Visualization Showing Array of Lightning in Upper Atmosphere

The European Space Agency (ESA) shared on January 20 a visualization of types of upper atmospheric lightning, including what’s known as a blue jet.

The visualization is based on data gathered by the International Space Station.

“A blue jet is a form of lightning that shoots upwards from thunderstorm clouds. They can reach as far as 50 km into the stratosphere and last less than a second,” ESA said.

The blue jet was observed in a storm over the Pacific Ocean, near the island of Nauru in February 2019, Science News reported.

Optical cameras, photometers, and an X- and gamma-ray detector installed on the space station observed the blue jet, ESA says.

According to the agency, this visualization shows a blue flash, which lasts only 10 micro seconds, followed by the blue jet lasting 400 milliseconds. The blue flash also generated a phenomenon called ELVES (an acronym of Emission of Light and Very Low Frequency perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources), which is also visualized in this video. ELVES are “rapidly expanding ring[s] of optical and UV emissions at the bottom of the ionosphere,” ESA said on YouTube. Credit: ESA via Storyful