Blue Jets Studied From Space Station | 空间站对蓝色喷流的研究

For years, their existence has been debated: elusive electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere that sport names such as red sprites, blue jets, pixies and elves. Reported by pilots, they are difficult to study as they occur above thunderstorms.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen during his mission on the International Space Station in 2015 was asked to take pictures over thunderstorms with the most sensitive camera on the orbiting outpost to look for these brief features.
ESA宇航员Andreas Mogensen在他的2015空间站任务中,被要求利用最敏感的相机,在空间站这座轨道前哨中,从雷暴上方拍下一些直观的现象。

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.


Andreas Mogensen captures gigantic lightning from the International Space Station
Andreas Mogensen于国际空间站拍摄的大型闪电


Cloud turret

Satellites had probed these events but their viewing angle is not ideal for gathering data on the scale of the blue jets and smaller blue discharges. In contrast, the Station’s lower orbit is ideally placed to capture the sprites and jets.

Andreas aimed for cloud turrets – cloud pillars extending into the upper atmosphere – and shot a 160 second video showing 245 blue flashes from the top of a turret that drifted from the Bay of Bengal’s thunderstorm.

The blue discharges and jets are examples of a little-understood part of our atmosphere. Electrical storms reach into the stratosphere and have implications for how our atmosphere protects us from radiation.


Permanent observation

Lightning seen from Space Station

This experiment confirms that the Space Station is a suitable base for observing these phenomena. As a follow-up, the Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor is being prepared for launch later this year for installation outside Europe’s Columbus laboratory to monitor thunderstorms continuously to gather information about such ‘transient luminous events’.

Andreas concludes, “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.”
Andreas为此总结: “将一个新的天气现象捕捉入镜,并不是每天都能做到的,我很荣幸能得到这样的成果——但是依然希望能拍摄到更多,如此一来,研究者们就能有更多信息细节来研究这些有趣的闪电。”


Red sprites and blue jets



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