Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Lightning-made waves in Earth's atmosphere leak into space

IMAGE: Waves created by lightning flashes -- here shown in blue, green, and red -- circle around Earth, creating something called Schumann resonance. These waves can be used to study the...

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At any given moment about 2,000 thunderstorms roll over Earth, producing some 50 flashes of lightning every second. Each lightning burst creates electromagnetic waves that begin to circle around Earth captured between Earth's surface and a boundary about 60 miles up. Some of the waves – if they have just the right wavelength – combine, increasing in strength, to create a repeating atmospheric heartbeat known as Schumann resonance. This resonance provides a useful tool to analyze Earth's weather, its electric environment, and to even help determine what types of atoms and molecules exist in Earth's atmosphere, but until now they have only ever been observed from below.
Now, NASA's Vector Electric Field Instrument (VEFI) aboard the U.S. Air Force's Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite has detected Schumann resonance from space. This comes as a surprise, since current models of Schumann resonance predict these waves should be caged at lower altitude, between the ground and a layer of Earth's atmosphere called the ionosphere.


MORE: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-11/nsfc-lwi112811.php

gaw

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