Caught On Camera: Picture Of Rare 'Red Sprite' Captured By Astronaut From ISS

Caught On Camera: Picture Of Rare 'Red Sprite' Captured By Astronaut From ISS

The image was captured by astronaut Andreas Mogensen using a high-resolution camera for the Thor-Davis experiment at Danish Technical University.

Aditi ThakurUpdated: Sunday, December 10, 2023, 11:25 AM IST
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These photographs were captured by the astronaut using a high-resolution camera for the Thor-Davis experiment at Danish Technical University | Andreas Mogensen/ X

In its latest click, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) snapped a rare lightning phenomenon called a red sprite from the International Space Station (ISS). The images were captured by astronaut Andreas Mogensen, using a high-resolution camera for the Thor-Davis experiment at Danish Technical University. The ISS has been orbiting Earth at a height of nearly 250 miles, meaning that the space station makes approximately 16 passes around Earth daily. 

Taking to X (former Twitter), Andreas Mogensen shared an incredible image and video and captioned it, "Beyond the clouds is a fascinating world." Since August, Mogensen has been on the ISS, and every Saturday, he captures images of Earth from the space station's Cupola.

The experiment's primary goal is to explore upper atmospheric lightning and its effects on greenhouse gas levels, which could impact global warming. Scientists estimated the proportions of the red sprite in the astronaut's vision to be approximately 14 by 26 kilometres (8.7 by 16.2 miles).

About red sprite

According to the astronaut, the red sprites represent an extraordinary meteorological phenomenon known as Transient Luminous Events (TLE) that can appear over thunderclouds.

He further explained, "The red sprites form around 40 to 80 km (24 to 50 miles) above ground, and as you can see in the video from the Davis camera, the red sprites appear after the thunder has struck and much higher up." 

The brief appearance of a red sprite lasting a millisecond is a challenge for scientists attempting to capture and study it. As these events appear above thunderclouds, they are difficult to observe from Earth and are primarily visible from space. 

However, exploring deeper into these properties can provide substantial insights into upper-atmospheric activity, providing worthwhile information for scientific understanding. Blue jets are another example of a Transient Luminous Event, which occurs in addition to red sprites.

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