Mesoscale Observations of Lightning from Space Shuttle

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Motion pictures have been taken at night by astronauts on the space shuttle showing lightning discharges that spread horizontally at speeds of 105 m·s−1 for distances over 60 km. Tape recordings have been made of the accompanying optical pulses detected with a photocell optical system. The observations show that lightning is often a mesoscale phenomenon that can convey large amounts of electric charge to earth from an extensive cloud system via a cloud-to-ground discharge.

1 State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12222

2 Atmospheric Sciences Division, Systems Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812

3 New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801

Motion pictures have been taken at night by astronauts on the space shuttle showing lightning discharges that spread horizontally at speeds of 105 m·s−1 for distances over 60 km. Tape recordings have been made of the accompanying optical pulses detected with a photocell optical system. The observations show that lightning is often a mesoscale phenomenon that can convey large amounts of electric charge to earth from an extensive cloud system via a cloud-to-ground discharge.

1 State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12222

2 Atmospheric Sciences Division, Systems Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812

3 New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801

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